We have seen 3D printing technology rapidly developing, with designers and engineers from all different fields trying to push it beyond its limits. It was only natural we would soon start seeing it put to the test in large scale applications. Dutch company MX3D is working on an ambitious project that will use robots to 3D print a steel bridge over water in the center of Amsterdam. The remarkable project doest not only show us how far 3D printing has come, but also gives us a glimpse of its potential and what to expect in the future.
The bridge will be designed by Joris Laarman and is a collaboration between MX3D, design software company Autodesk, construction company Heijmans and many others. MX3D has been developing groundbreaking, cost-effective robotic 3D printing technology that allows for intricate designs to be printed in a much larger scale and more economical than ever before.
What distinguishes our technology from traditional 3D printing methods is that we work according to the ‘Printing Outside the box’ principle. By printing with 6-axis industrial robots, we are no longer limited to a square box in which everything happens. Printing a functional, life-size bridge is of course the ideal way to showcase the endless possibilities of this technique.
– Tim Geurtjens – CTO MX3D
MX3D will use multi-axis industrial robots that can print metals, plastics and combinations of materials in virtually any form. The system is controlled by a software developed by MX3D with support of new-generation tools from Autodesk, like Project Dreamcatcher and Dynamo.
The bridge, spanning across a central canal in Amsterdam, will be printed on site by robots. The exact location of the bridge will be announced soon by MX3D and the City of Amsterdam. In September 2015, a visitor center will open for the public, where the progress of the project can be followed.
I strongly believe in the future of digital production and local production, in “the new craft”. This bridge will show how 3D printing finally enters the world of large-scale, functional objects and sustainable materials while allowing unprecedented freedom of form. The symbolism of the bridge is a beautiful metaphor to connect the technology of the future with the old city, in a way that brings out the best of both worlds.
– Joris Laarman – Designer
From large construction to small parts, this technique enables printing of strong, complex structures made of durable material. It is cost-effective and scalable, much more so than current 3D printing methods, and offers creative robotic production solutions for art, construction, manufacturing, and more.
MX3D’s engineers, craftsmen and software experts bring together digital technology, robotics and traditional industrial production in the Bridge project; they research the construction site of the future, test and share their knowledge with a AMS-3D Building FieldLab.
The MX3D platform is a potential game changer. Breaking free of the traditional limitations of additive manufacturing – small size prints and poor material performance – this technology opens up possibilities for architectural-scale, relatively low-cost, metal structures that are as complex as the designer’s imagination.
– Maurice Conti – Director Strategic Innovation, Autodesk
*All images and information courtesy of MX3D.