CompositesConstruction 3D Printing

DSM, Royal HaskoningDHV and CEAD design 3D printed FRP pedestrian bridge

There may soon be a new 3D printed bridge in town

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Engineering firm Royal HaskoningDHV partnered with CEAD and DSM to design the first lightweight 3D printed FRP pedestrian bridge prototype using a composite material. It consists of a glass-filled thermoplastic PET (Arnite), combined with continuous glass fibers which are added in CEAD’s 3D printing process. This unique combination offers high strength with extreme versatility and sustainability.

The three companies brought together Royal HaskoningDHV’s international experience in engineering and project management, with DSM’s knowledge of polymer materials and CEAD’s innovative composite 3D printing technology.

“This partnership is bringing about a paradigm shift in the way we think about the form and function of bridges in our society,” commented Maurice Kardas, Business Development Manager at Royal HaskoningDHV. FRP (fiber reinforced polymer) bridges are already well known for having a longer life expectancy with lower life cycle costs compared to steel bridges. “What’s new here – he added – is the use of a new 3D printing technology, enabling us to print large scale continuous fiber-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.”

By including sensors in the design, the team is able to build a digital twin of the bridge. These sensors can predict and optimize maintenance, ensure safety and extend the life span of the bridges.  New functionalities such as monitoring vital environmental aspects, can also be integrated to improve the decision-making process for maintenance and inspection, via dynamic real-time reports on the condition of the bridge. “In collaboration with these industry leaders, we are transforming the traditional playbook when it comes to bridge design and construction,” Mr. Kardas concluded.

Considering that DSM is a Dutch company, as are the other two partners in this project, and judging by the renders provided, the first 3D printed FRP pedestrian bridge may be built in Amsterdam. It would not be the first time. Over the past few years, MX3D has been working on a generatively designed, 3D printed metal pedestrian bridge also destined to one of the city’s many canals. In this new project, the combination of the companies’ generative design and predictive modeling expertise broadens the design freedom. It also allows for a more efficient bridge design as it uses only the precise amount of material required, thus helping to deliver an optimized printing process which results in improved mechanical performance.

Materials also play a big part. “Using a material such as Arnite has huge benefits for the construction of bridges,” explained Patrick Duis, Segment Leader Additive Manufacturing at DSM. “Rather than using traditional materials such as steel or concrete, these bridges can be much more sustainable and offer greater flexibility in design using recyclable materials. We know that designs previously deemed challenging or impossible to produce with other manufacturing methods are now possible with 3D printing, and we’re excited to be playing our part in this partnership.”

3D printed FRP pedestrian bridge

This project provides a great example of how leading companies in the Netherlands are partnering to be at the forefront in the transition towards circularity – one that is innovative and competitive in transforming bridge construction for the future. Royal HaskoningDHV’s role takes the form of bridge designer, while CEAD developed the largest composite 3D printer and DSM provides the innovative composite material. DSM and CEAD are also working together on predictive modeling to optimize material and printing process.

“[…] This 3D printed bridge prototype demonstrates the huge strides that we are making which will transform the future of this industry, not only speeding up construction but also making the process more cost and time-efficient. We developed this technology for exactly these industry applications, making them more sustainable and easier to manufacture,” concluded Maarten Logtenberg, CEO of CEAD.

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Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based VoxelMatters. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites and, as well as VoxelMatters Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

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