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Firms Collaborate on 3D-Printed Bridge Design

Monday, September 23, 2019

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Materials company DSM, engineering firm Royal HaskoningDHV and 3D printer manufacturer CEAD recently collaborated to produce a design for a 3D-printed pedestrian bridge made of a composite material.

According to The Architect’s Newspaper, all three Dutch organizations worked together. The 3D printer used can continuously produce glass- or carbon-fiber-reinforced thermoplastics.

3D-Printed Bridge Project

The material intended for use in the prototype is composed of a high-performance engineering plastic, with continuous glass fibers added during the 3D printing process.

To produce the bridge, the teams are using CEAD’s CFAM Prime printer, which can make sections up to 13 feet by 6-and-a-half feet by 5 feet. The Architect’s Newspaper goes on to specify that while large-scale printers have previously been used to produce formwork molds, which then can be used to make structural components, the 3D printer being used in this project can eventually potentially produce entire bridges.

“[Fiber reinforced polymer] bridges are already well known for having a longer lifetime expectancy with lower life cycle costs compared to steel bridges,” said Maurice Kardas, Business Development Manager at Royal HaskoningDHV.

“What’s new here is the use of a 3D printing technology, enabling us to print large scale continuous fibre reinforced thermoplastic parts. Using this new composite thermoplastic material, we will be ushering in a new era for sustainability and push the boundaries of bridge functionality even further.”

The designers hope that these fiber-and-plastic components will be able to better withstand weather. When used in larger structures, plastics can face a brittleness problem, however.

“By including sensors in the design, we are able to build a digital twin of the bridge. These sensors can predict and optimise maintenance, ensure safety and extend the life span of our bridges,” said Kardas.

“It can also incorporate new functionalities such as monitoring vital environmental aspects and improve the decision-making process for maintenance and inspection via dynamic real-time reports on the condition of the bridge.”

 

   

Tagged categories: 3D printing; Bridges; EU; Europe; Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP); Infrastructure; Program/Project Management; Research and development

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