Amsterdam engineers will soon set loose a robot that will construct a 3D-printed bridge across one of its many canals.
According to Quartz News
, the metal bridge will not be printed in a factory and later assembled at the site. Instead, Dutch 3D printing company MX3D will bring the robot to the site, and program it to "draw" a 3D structure through the air and across the canal.
"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," MX3D designer Joris Laarman said at the company's announcement.
"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 robot that will construct the bridge looks like a small crane. Its six joints allow it to articulate its printer nozzle in almost any position.
The University of Delft developed a special resin-metal composite to come out of the nozzle, whereupon it's instantly welded into place. The composite is stronger than steel, but much, much lighter, making it a perfect material for a foot bridge.
The project is sponsored by American company Autodesk, a stalwart of industrial and commercial design software.
The city of Amsterdam has not chosen an exact spot for the bridge as of yet, but printing is set to commence in September. The robot does not need as much room as a typical construction site, so visitors will be allowed and encouraged to observe the robot as it builds.
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