First 3-D Printed Concrete Bridge Opens


Engineers in the Netherlands say they’ve completed the world’s first 3-D-printed reinforced concrete bridge, a span for cyclists that’s now open in the town of Gemert.

Created at Eindhoven University of Technology, the bridge—26 feet long and about 11 feet wide—was tested with a load of five tons, far more loading than it will be subject to day-to-day handing bicycle traffic. The breakthrough creation, the university says, has provided engineers a chance to better understand the concrete 3-D printing process, and will help them to build larger spans in the future.

The Gemert project is part of a larger road project undertaken by contractor BAM Infra. EUT professor Theo Salet, whose specialty is concrete construction, headed up the printing operation. The EUT team created a 1:2 scale prototype in the spring, then commenced 3-D printing of the real thing in June.

Future of 3-D Printing

While 3-D printed structures—created by machines that deposit layers of material such as concrete—have grown in popularity in recent years, one breakthrough of the Dutch bridge project is the insertion of steel reinforcing cables, important in concrete load-bearing structures, during the printing process.

The researchers note that the 3-D printing process uses less concrete than traditional concrete construction, because deposition by layer allows the builders to add concrete only where it’s needed, while traditional concrete pours fill the formwork with concrete completely. The process also eliminates the waste of formwork that would be discarded at the end of a construction project.

The engineers say the deposition process has the potential to speed the bridge-building process up, possibly by as much as threefold. Larger bridges could be built by assembling smaller parts created by printers.

In addition to BAM and EUT, other entities involved in the project included: engineering firm Witteveen + Bos, the municipality of Gemert-Bakel and the province of Noord-Brabant.


Tagged categories: 3D printing; Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC); Asia Pacific; Bridges; concrete; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Latin America; North America; Program/Project Management; Research and development; Z-Continents

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