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3-D Printed Concrete Bridge Takes Shape

Friday, June 30, 2017

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The world of 3-D printed bridges continues to unfold at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands.

Earlier this month saw the commencement of the Built Environment department’s newest project—the world’s first 3-D printed, reinforced, pre-stressed concrete bridge. The new piece of infrastructure is part of a ring road that will surround Gemert, a town in the Netherlands.

While this bridge is not intended for loads such as heavy automotive traffic, it will provide a new route for cyclists.

High Efficiency

3-D printing with concrete has a number of bonuses, not the least of which is more efficient use of concrete: The printer itself can place the concrete more precisely. In traditional building methods, concrete is poured into a mold; a 3-D printer can produce any desired shape, with no wooden formwork needed.

A perk is the reduced environmental footprint of the practice, as less concrete equates to less carbon produced in the atmosphere. The downfall, though, is that the concrete cannot handle tensile stress adequately on its own.

Eindhoven University of Technology 
Earlier this month saw the commencement of the Built Environment department’s newest project—the world’s first 3-D printed, reinforced, pre-stressed concrete bridge.

According to the university, Theo Salet—a professor of concrete construction—and his group have successfully developed a way to simultaneously print the necessary steel reinforcement along with the concrete, providing the bridge with the necessary support. When the printer lays a strip of concrete, the printer adds a cable so the bridge is pre-stressed. This removes the chance of tensile stress impacting the concrete.

Model First

Over recent months, Salet’s research group made a 1:2 scale model, which successfully supported a load of 4,400 pounds. Since the model was a success and demonstrated the necessary safety, the group started the 3-D printing process on June 16.

According to the university, bridge elements may be printed and completed in just two months. If everything goes according to plan, the BAM construction company will be able to put the bridge in place in September.

Other entities involved in this project include: engineering firm Witteveen + Bos, the municipality of Gemert-Bakel and the province of Noord-Brabant.


Tagged categories: Infrastructure; Research and development

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