3D printing has emerged in the recent past as a smart and quick alternative to many fields of production. Its applications in the field of construction are no exception. It is however relatively easier to handle 3D printing of small or medium sized products, ensuring stability, strength and durability in case of a structure for the built environment pose serious challenges.

The cycle bridge is part of the Noord-Om project which is a new section on the ring road around the village of Gemert in Netherlands. Although the team claims it to be World's 1st 3D printed bridge, there was already a 3D printed pedestrian bridge built this year in Madrid, Spain which in our opinion is the rightful deserver of the title '1st 3D printed bridge'. Another project was to be initiated by a company named MX3D to print a steel bridge with huge robotic arms but the project appears to be still.

Dutch inaugurate the 3D Printed Reinforced Concrete Bridge Designed by Technical University of Eindhoven
Inauguration of the 3D printed bridge in Netherlands (Image courtesy: BAM Infra)
This Dutch bridge is a practical bridge for cyclists which was printed using a custom built cement printer at the Technical Universty of Eindhoven. Individual layers each having a thickness of 1cm are printed by injecting liquid mortar into the printhead through the storage. Steel reinforcing wire is fed down before a layer dries and the process goes on. The printer builds up sections layer by layer which are approximately 1m high.
Dutch inaugurate the 3D Printed Reinforced Concrete Bridge Designed by Technical University of Eindhoven
(Images courtesy: BAM Infra)

3D-printed concrete bridge from Royal BAM Group nv

Six of the printed sections were transported to the site to be glued together to form a bridge that is 8 m long, 3.5 m wide and is 0.9 m thick. During the testing phase, the bridge was found to support an imposed load of 5 Tons which is far greater than that of the cyclists. The expected life of the bridge is 30 years. The bridge was built by the company BAM Infra and the team claims to have gained valuable experience from this versatile project which will allow the members to print much larger sections for much bigger structures.

3D printing in construction has endless possibilities and benefits. A very important aspect is the economical use of cement and other materials. Another aspect is not requiring a formwork or minimum if at all needed which also saves costs and material wastage.


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