After just over 2 years of suspense (since the metal 3D printing phase was completed), the MX3DBridge has finally being placed and inaugurated in the city center of Amsterdam. The company finalized it and tested the sensor network. The event is so momentous that Queen Máxima of the Netherlands participated in person in the inaugural ceremony (although the ribbon was cut by a cobot, in what is perhaps the first public collaboration between royalty and robots) while major generalist portals around the world covered the event in depth (Mashable produced the video above). While they only scratch the surface of what is possible today with additive manufacturing, these types of far-reaching projects contribute greatly to raising awareness around and broadening the reach of AM technology to more diverse audiences.
Visitors are now able to tour the MX3D Bridge just like any other bridge in the beautiful Dutch city of canals. While the steel 3D bridge experiment may not be repeated (although that remains to be seen) MX3D gained invaluable experience which is now being implemented primarily in the production of large size metal parts for the maritime and arts industries.
It’s been a while. In 2017 we reported that close to a third of the bridge had been printed, and the Dutch design studios MX3D was on track to finish printing in early 2018 as programmed (see timeline below). The company working on the bridge designed by Joris Laarman had also mounted a robot directly on the bridge.
Unlike other high-profile 3D printing projects that clash with physical impossibilities, the first generatively designed, metal 3D printed bridge is now a reality.
MX3D 3D printed the fully functional stainless steel bridge to cross one of the oldest and most famous canals in the center of Amsterdam, the Oudezijds Achterburgwal. The company equipped typical industrial robots with purpose-built tools and develops the software to control them. The unique approach allowed them to 3D print strong, complex and graceful structures out of metal. The goal of the MX3D Bridge project is to showcase the potential applications of our multi-axis 3D printing technology.
In the meantime, the Dutch company has grown significantly and launched the M1 commercial 3D printing system (after raising €2.25 million) as well as completed numerous applications in the maritime segment.
The Bridge was designed by Joris Laarman Lab, Arup was the lead structural engineer, ArcelorMittal provided the metallurgical expertise, Autodesk assisted with their knowledge on digital production tools, Heijmans contributed as construction experts, Lenovo supported the project with computational hardware, ABB was the robotics specialist, Air Liquide & Oerlikon contributed with knowledge about welding and lastly, Plymovent protected the air MX3D employees breathed whilst AMS and TU Delft provided invaluable research. Gemeente Amsterdam was the first customer of the collaborative bridge-building department.
*This article was originally published in 2017 and was most recently updated in 2021 with news of the bridge’s installation (July 8th) and inauguration (July 16th).