World’s First 3-D-Printed Steel Bridge Debuts in Amsterdam | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

World’s First 3-D-Printed Steel Bridge Debuts in Amsterdam

Last week, the first 3-D-printed steel bridge in the world—an innovative project headed by Dutch company MX3D—opened to the public in Amsterdam. Queen Máxima of the Netherlands presided over the unveiling, pressing a button that prompted a robot to cut a ribbon hanging across the bridge, reports Aleksandar Furtula for the Associated Press (AP). The novel landmark spans one of the city’s oldest canals and sits in the center of the red-light district.

In addition to marking a milestone in the capabilities of 3-D printing technology, the 40-foot-long bridge doubles as a “living laboratory” with hidden sensors that collect real-time data about the overpass’ performance. Researchers at Imperial College London will use this data to analyze how the bridge reacts over time as pedestrians interact with it.

“A 3-D-printed metal structure large and strong enough to handle pedestrian traffic has never been constructed before,” says Leroy Gardner, a structural engineer at Imperial, in a statement. “It’s fantastic to see it finally open to the public.”

Plans for construction of the smart bridge began in 2015, when MX3D proposed 3-D printing a metal bridge with state-of-the-art technology that combines robotics and welding, reports Sofia Lekka Angelopoulou for Designboom. Six tons of stainless steel and several years later, the bridge stands as an award-winning feat of engineering.