From afar, it resembles a simple reinforced concrete bridge spanning a narrow canal in a rural village. But closer inspection reveals its unusually wavy shape and ridged texture. No ordinary structure, this 8-meter-long, 3.5-meter-wide bridge is the first civil infrastructure for bicycles to be 3D-printed in reinforced pre-stressed concrete. (The very first 3D-printed concrete bridge is for pedestrians, inaugurated in Spain last December.)
On October 17, after three months of printing some 800 layers of concrete at Eindhoven University of Technology, the high-tech bridge opened to cyclists in the village of Gemert, Netherlands. Tested under a weight of 5 tons, the bridge should easily carry hundreds of cyclists across the canal for at least the next 30 years.
Realized as a proof-of-concept, the bridge is part of a larger infrastructure project initiated by the Dutch province of North-Brabant in collaboration with the company BAM Infra.
3D printing presents several advantages over traditional concrete construction: savings in material (only the concrete required for the structure is printed, instead of filling a mold), no need for framework and therefore reduced CO2 emissions, free shape design, faster production, more direct transfer from conception to implementation…
3D-printing a concrete bridge in the Netherlands (report by Thomasnet):
In parallel, the Dutch start-up MX3D is finalizing the 3D printing of a stainless steel “smart” bridge for pedestrians to cross the Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal in Amsterdam, scheduled to open in June 2018. One more step toward the sustainable smart city!