The Netherlands may have the world’s first 3D-printed bridge soon.

The first pedestrian bridge 3D printed with fiber-reinforced polymer is being conceived in a collaboration between engineering company royal haskoningDHV, polymer company DSM and composites 3D printing company CEAD. based in delft, netherlands, CEAD is planning to commercialize a large scale continuous fiber 3D printing process. their CFAM prime process is able to produce glass- or carbon fiber-reinforced parts that are four by two by 1.5 meters in size, enabling the production of bridge parts and almost an unlimited WAY to construct bridges or other construction parts made of these materials. 

large scale polymer printers have been widely used for formwork molds, letting designers produce large-scale parts for tunnels and other structures. both CEAD and BAAM systems have experimented with structural parts but never with 3D printing an entire pedestrian bridge out of polymers.

the combination of polymers with continuos fiber can produce a lightweight, yet high-strength structure, enabling the construction of infrastructure. when in the past, other 3D printed buildings have failed when coming in contact with feezing temperatures and other conditions, this technology is meant to combat these issues.

3Dprint.com reported that maurice kardas, business development manager at royal haskoningdhv, said, ‘this collaboration will bring about a paradigm shift in the way we think of the form and functionality in bridges. fiber reinforced plastic bridges have been known for their long life spans and lower overall costs in comparison with steel bridges. now we will be using a new 3d printing technology which lets us at scale make fiber-reinforced plastic parts. through adding sensors to the bridge we can make a ‘digital twin’ of the bridge itself. these sensors can predict and optimize maintenance, ensure safety and lengthen the life span of bridges.’

patric duis, segment leader additive manufacturing bij dsm stated, ‘using arnite has significant advantages in bridge building. instead of traditional materials such as steel and concrete, we can make more environmentally friendly bridges with more flexible design and through using recyclable materials. designs that would before have been challenging or even impossible..can now be made through 3d printing.’

the materials used for the bridge are recyclable, as opposed to concrete, which is a major pollutant. printing the bridge out of arnite, a stiff pbt or PET material could be ideal and sustainable. the team is facing the challenge of turning complex composites into recyclable materials. the recycling processes for these materials have yet to be developed, however,r smart manufacturers are already turning to natural fibers to create sustainable composites.

in addition, one of CEAD’s printing methods works on fused granulate fabrication. this granulate-based 3D printing technology reduces the cost of parts, as opposed to filament-printing. building sructures out of recyclable polymer would be an ideal solution for long-lasting, environmentally-friendly construction.

By  Cristina Gomez

From Designboom

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