Can MX3D Really 3D-Print A Steel Bridge In Mid-Air?

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We can 3D print a heck of a lot of all things now, from small toys to candies to full-sized kayaks. MX3D, though, wants to 3D print something entirely unheard of: an entire steel bridge. And they want to do it right in mid-air.

Using six-axis robots that can fabricate using metal and resin, the company will build a 24-foot-long bridge over a canal in Amsterdam. Instead of fabricating the parts in a shop before installing them on site, though, their robot will perform the manufacturing directly on the location, building the bridge piece by piece from either side of the canal all the way to a meeting spot in the center.

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MX3D’s 3D-printing robots don’t have a printing bed like traditional desktop printers. Instead, the material is extruded right on the building spot, with the robot moving along a track in order to build sections above the canal. Rather than a fixed track, though, the robots will also 3D-print the tracks as they go, building them towards any direction, making for highly-dynamic building capabilities.

According to the company, the bridge they’re building will be an arc-shaped structure, with intricate ornamentation that will showcase the capabilities of the robots. Designed by Joris Laarman, the as-of-yet unnamed bridge will be made from a steel composite developed by the University of Delft, giving it the strength necessary to support foot traffic across the canal. It is expected to take two months to construct.

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MX3D is currently working with various partners, including the City of Amsterdam, Autodesk, and ABB Robotics, in drawing up plans for the project. It is scheduled to commence the actual printing in 2017.

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2 Responses

  1. Christopher

    That’s amazing that this machinery will build the project right on-site! We use a CNC machine at work to cut wood and metal and this has a very similar look and purpose to it in regards to mechanical purpose. With today’s increasing technology, it’s incredible how much more resourceful and independent technology is becoming. This also goes to show that individuals (as consumers) can become more self-reliant and invest money into technology like this to save loads of money and be more creative with what they create/purchase. I’m excited to see how this nearly 30ft bridge turns out that they’re going to use this technology to build for in Amsterdam! It doesn’t say here how much it costs, but it’s definitely industrial-sized and I wouldn’t be surprised if it easily exceeded $50-$100K for (2) arms.

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  2. ivan

    i love how sophisticated this is, and really nice-demo video too. it moves pretty fast, i like that a lot and could find a few production-uses for something like that. just think, with this kind of technology and the open-source ability to make whatever you want,from technology like this it would appear as though the skies are your limits now a days, and entrepreneurs and inventors can be much more independent or self-reliant now on the construction of their products and save a ton of overhead in using technology like this. this robot-technology looks more like something you would see in outer-space. do they have technology like this for underwater building and construction too? before you know it, even more jobs are going to be automated. just think where that will leave everyone job wise and bring the economy to!

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