As 3D printing enjoys the penultimate technological attention today, 3D printers of all shapes and sizes are being created to cater to different markets and purposes. One such invention happens to be a multi-axis robotic 3D printer created by an Amsterdam based company, MX3D, and this printer promises to 3D print.. steel structures.
“MX3D is a highly innovative company that developed a groundbreaking additive manufacturing method. We can 3D print metals and resin in mid-air, without the need for support structures”, explains the company on their official website.
The company is all set to print a bridge over a local canal to put their one of a kind invention into action.
“With our robots that can ‘draw’ steel structures in 3D, we will print a bridge over water in the center of Amsterdam. We research and develop groundbreaking, cost-effective robotic technology with which we can 3D print beautiful, functional objects in almost any form. The ultimate test? Printing an intricate, ornate metal bridge for a special location to show what our robots and software, engineers, craftsmen and designers can do,” MX3D says.
Designed by Joris Laarman, a designer who frequently plays with technology, the bridge will be completed by MX3D in collaboration with construction firm Heijmans and engineering software company Autodesk, prominent names among other partners of the project.
But how will the process work? The MX3D printing robot combines its resin technique – which uses an extrusion technology paired with fast curing resin to neutralize the effects of gravity and print without the support of external surfaces – with a welding technique, effectively replacing the working material with metal, structural steel in this case. “This method gives us a flexibility to create organic shaped objects by making 3D curves instead of 2D layers,” MX3D explains. Incremental production will be welded to the existing structure, securely creating an autonomous structure. The printer will continue to print its own supports as well, so it may traverse the canal and continue printing in mid air.
“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,” says Laarman.
MX3D has 3D printed steel webs to test the workability of the idea, and remains positive. The bridge will be drawn by two robots working together in tandem, beginning on both sides of the canal to join in the middle, much like a typical bridge construction.
So far, architectural design of the bridge has not been revealed, but MX3D indicates a cantilevered arch. The location, too, remains a mystery. Construction is hoped to begin by September. Successful completion of the MX3D bridge will open new avenues for not only the construction industry, it will prove to be an asset to the engineering industry at large. We at A Geeky World are all eyes and ears for how this turns out!