University Fabricates Bridge Using Robots


A robot-fabricated hybrid pedestrian bridge was recently created at Shanghai-based Tongji University's College of Architecture and Urban Planning.

The bridge was created through a collaboration between students attending the university’s DigitalFUTURES International summer workshop and local research studio Fab-Union.

Robot-Fabricated Hybrid Bridge

To construct the metal fabricated bridge, a team of students used a novel hybrid additive manufacturing approach that incorporated large-scale 3D printers, filament winding and topology optimization software. According to reports, the total process took only 20 days and four robots to complete.

In a two-part process, the bridge’s skeletal steel base was 3D printed using a robotic fabrication process and then reinforced by winding carbon and glass fibers around the frame to create the handrails and stairs.

“This project proves intelligent construction has a great potential for material and energy saving in the architecture field," said architect, Tongji University academic and team leader Philip F. Yuan. “Robotic fabrication is a high-precision manufacturing technology, combining with advanced structural analysis and optimization method.”

In using the topology optimization software, the team was able to remove all unnecessary material prior to construction, which resulted in the use of only 263 kilograms (almost 580 pounds) of steel for the 11.4-meter-long (12.5-foot-long) bridge. The completed structure could hold over 20 people safely and at its thinnest point, was only 20 centimeters thick.

"This project presents a clean, accurate, strong structure," the team stated. "The light from the sunshine travels through the glass fiber, creates a soft soothing glow."

In addition to creating a unique webbed structure, the team’s approach was reported to be cost-effective, as well as material- and energy-efficient.

The hybrid structure was preassembled offsite and installed in July over a water feature on the university’s campus, where it stayed until its disassembly in October. Other student groups attending the DigitalFUTURES workshop focused on areas such as augumented timber assembly, smart city decision making, AI in urban design and holographic-aided construction.


Tagged categories: 3D printing; 3D Printing; AS; Bridges; Bridges; China; Colleges and Universities; Prefabrication; Program/Project Management; Robotics; Technology

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