The Dutch love their cycling. They’re also big on technology, efficiency, and sustainability. And a new project seems to tick on the boxes.
Dutch engineers claim to have built the world’s first 3D printed concrete bridge. The bridge will carry cyclists over the Peelsche Loop at Gemert. The eight-metre long bridge took three months to build.
Made from hundreds of concrete layers the bridge can bear loads of up to two tonnes. So it can handle a few blokes in lycra.
How did they do it?
The Bam Infa website explains the process. At least it does if Google Translate is working correctly.
The giant 3D printer has a large rack on which the elements of the structure are printed.
A hose pipe takes mortar to the print head. A moving slide holding the print head travels over the racks.
The liquid mortar also contains a steel wire. This immediately strengthens the structure.
The print head deposits 1cm of mortar on each layer. The 3D printing process works like any home or office machine. By creating layer upon layer.
Individual elements of the finished bicycle bridge consisted of 800 layers. When each piece of the bridge is finished it receives a weather proof coating. Steel rods provide the extra strength the bridge needs.
Why print a bridge?
At first glance it does seem a little like using technology for technology’s sake. But there are real benefits to 3D printing in construction.
3D printing produces less waste and is more environmentally friendly. Designs can be adapted quickly and can speed up some aspects of construction.
Marinus Schimmel, Director of BAM Infra Nederland, said: “We are connecting for the future.
“We are constantly looking for a newer, smarter approach to addressing infrastructure issues and thus making a significant contribution to improving the mobility and sustainability of our society.
“Innovation plays a crucial role here. 3D printing does away with the need of auxiliary materials such as formwork.
“This produces significantly less waste and we need fewer scarce raw materials. This way of working also has a positive effect on the amount of CO2 emissions during the bridge production process.”
Theo Salet, a professor at Eindhoven University of Technology, said: “(3D printing) enables each design to be realised in a unique way with the same effort.
“An important additional benefit is that all information gathered in the design process can now also be incorporated directly in the execution.
“This is an important development in the field of Building Information Management (BIM), because it brings the various parties in the supply chain closer together. Ultimately, it is the end-user who benefits from this, in terms of higher quality and customisation.”
More 3D printing innovation
The use of 3D printers is widespread in construction. There are many projects underway involving printing houses and other Dutch engineers are working on a steel bridge.
3D printing is a technology which is certain to find more applications and uses not only in construction but also in other industry. Aerospace, architecture and automobile manufacture already use the technology.
Want to use a 3D printer to build your own bicycle bridge?
Ebuyer sells 3D printers. You won’t be able to print your own bridge – not a full-size one anyway. But check out our great range of 3D printers for the home, school and office. Whether you are a home user or concept designer we have a 3D printer for you. Click here to choose your printer.