Revolutionary structure designed to last 30 years.
Dutch officials have applauded the opening of what is being referred to as the world’s first fully functional 3D-printed concrete bridge. The bridge, located in the south-eastern town of Gemert, is primarily intended for cyclists.
The bridge is made of made of reinforced, pre-stressed concrete, and work began on printing the bridge which has some 800 layers back in June.
Theo Salet, from the Eindhoven University of Technology (EUT), told Dutch broadcaster NOS: “One of the advantages of printing a bridge is that much less concrete is needed than in the conventional technique in which a mould is filled… A printer deposits the concrete only where it is needed.” Salet also said that that the bridge was specifically designed to last for some 30 years and to be used daily by hundreds of cyclists.
Small, but perfectly formed
OK, so the bridge doesn’t span a gaping chasm or a raging river, but it is unique and one of the first of its kind. The bridge spans a water-filled ditch to connect two roads, and in conjunction with the BAM Infra construction company was tested for safety before any cyclists were allowed to cross.
In total, the bridge is eight metres long and 3.5 metres wide. Its strength was tested with a five-tonne weight, with its designers confident it could hold far more.
Good for the environment?
Yes, or at least, not as damaging as traditional bridge building techniques. By using 3D printers to create the structure, the Gemert bridge has produced substantially less CO2, due largely to the lack of waste and forming structures.
“We are looking to the future,” said the head of BAM, Marinus Schimmel, adding in a statement that his company was constantly “searching for a newer, smarter approach to addressing infrastructure issues and making a significant contribution to improving the mobility and sustainability of our society.”