Form and Function: 3D Printed Bridge Combines Charm and Modern Industrial Technology

Bridges link individuals in a lot of ways. Even when our paths entail waterways and other challenges, bridges allow us to find a path to what matters most. A 3D printed bridge under construction in Amsterdam brings individuals together, too, in a task that utilises art and innovation to produce something functional and beautiful enough to be displayed upon a display showcase if it were possible.

“I strongly believe in the future of digital production and local production in the ‘new craft’,” said Joris Laarman, whose Joris Laarman Lab is responsible for the design of the bridge. “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.”

The practical bridge, which is currently being crafted and undergoing software testing in a warehouse, will be set up across the Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal. The job is the work of MX3D, a style business that uses 3D printing for furniture.

MX3D’s main officer of innovation Tim Geurtjens claimed they produced their own devices due to the limitations on existing 3D printers, according to Item Style and Development. In an early experiment, a utilized industrial robot was geared up with an extruder head that pushed out a two-part polyurethane resin that hardens in seconds. The use of 2 $10 paint strippers speeds up the method dramatically. The robotic arm provided the system 6 degrees of freedom instead of the 3 degrees managed by traditional 3D printers. As an outcome, the length of the robot’s arm is the only restriction on develop volume.

“If you reach the limitation of the robotic, you can move the robotic,” Geurtjens was quoted.

Initial tests led to a plastic free procedure where a basic MIG welder that deposits weld wire is used instead, stated Geurtjens. Stainless-steel is used for this project with an optimum deposition rate of 3 to 4 kgs per hour. Previously aluminum and bronze have been used with the current welder on otherMX3D tasks. One robot isn’t really adequate to construct the canal-spanning structure. To produce the 500 million to 1 billion separate welds required to complete the bridge, ABB Robotics has loaned out four IRB 2600 Robotics. These specialized welding robots have wrists suited to understanding welding heads.

The robots were customised by MX3D by attaching special nozzles and a set of sensors so they could closely monitor the welding procedure. Furthermore, so they could walk over the part of the bridge they had just created, a custom base was also attached.
The position of the robotic is determined within the coordinate area of the model, either by triangulated laser range finders or an external laser scanner that images the entire structure.

MX3D had to customise more than the robotics for the construction of the bridge. Commercial software was inadequate for driving the robotics. To integrate the sensing units and own the robots, a custom software application platform was built from scratch said Geurtjens. Basic CAD files like Autodesk’s Maya and RHINO formats are utilised instead.

“Ninety percent of what we do is software screening and trialing,” Geurtjens noted.

“Security is a vital concern with a practical bridge, although the company had the ability to navigate regulatory restrictions governing permanent structures by stating the bridge a momentary art setup.”

Despite regulatory restrictions governing fixed structures not applying as the bridge was considered a momentary art setup, a core concern of building the bridge was security and safety. Geurtjens stated several measures have been made to ensure that anyone who is crossing the bridge is safe.

The voltage and present profile of every weld are monitored and logged, and an effective weld has a particular signature that will be screened. To sense whether a specific bridge area is being heated to the point where it could warp in the future, thermal imaging is also being considered by the company. Furthermore, the maker measures the gap between the print nozzle and the piece being created by using laser distance sensing Meaning product accumulation rate is not continuous. The robot’s arm course of work and product speed is changed by this feedback

When finished, a 9 meters long, 2.5 meters broad, approximately 5,000kgs heavy bridge will exist. Standard plates will be used to build the bridge deck; this is the only part that won’t be printed. MX3D has given itself seven to eight months to print the bridge due to the project being speculative. However, it should take only 3-4 months via agile automated testing that allows for the styling process to be perfected in the storage facility

The style and construction process started back in October of 2015. Prior to this project, Joris Laarman’s styles have used MX3D’s exclusive metal printer located in Amsterdam. The Dragon Bench was the first ever piece developed with the printer. Currently, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, and the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia possess irreversible compilations of these pieces.

A 2-by-3-meter double-curved butterfly is Laarman’s latest creative cooperation with MX3D. In June this piece was brought via a travel crate to be displayed in a glass showcase at Art Basel in Miami Beach. The company also collaboratively with Delft University of Technology students to build a 3D printed bicycle from stainless steel. The frame was designed in a three-month task. While it was predominantly meant to function as an idea, the bike was successfully street tested.

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