Dutch technology company MX3D just officially unveiled the world’s first 3D-printed stainless steel bridge. It took four robots, nearly 10,000 pounds of stainless steel, about 684 miles of wire, and six months of printing to build the sinuous, undulating structure, which looks like it’s straight out of a science-fiction movie.
The MX3D Bridge, designed by Joris Laarman Lab, is around 41 feet by 20 feet, and it’s made from a new kind of steel. 3D-printing created a ribbed surface as robots added layers upon layers; Gizmodo said it could be buffed out, but MX3D plans to keep the unique, rough look.
Laarman told Gizmodo it’s strange to glimpse the bridge in their workshop: “It’s a little bit like being in a science fiction story because it looks so different than everything else around. We work in a highly industrial shipyard where everything is geometric in shape, but this bridge doesn’t have a single straight line.”
MX3D’s goal for the bridge project is “to showcase the potential applications of our multi-axis 3D-printing technology,” according to their website. They say they serve architecture, maritime and offshore, and heavy duty industry markets. There’s that spark of sci-fi on their About page too: their ultimate vision is robots creating lightweight constructions — not just bridges, or buildings, but Mars colonies as well.
The company credits Arup for structural engineering, Heijmans as their construction expert, and AcelorMittal for metallurgical expertise, to name a few; several other companies and universities have been involved in the bridge project.
MX3D’s bridge is to be installed over the Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal in Amsterdam, possibly in 2019. Before that, the bridge will undergo load tests. Co-founder Gijs van der Velden told Gizmodo they recently tested it with 30 people, and it behaved as it should. He told Gizmodo, “[Amsterdam city officials] have collaborated with us, Arup, and Imperial College London to define a method for evaluating the safety of the bridge as, of course for a novel production like this, there is no standard code. Their open attitude towards such a new and unconventional project was essential to make this project a success.”