Robots to print a steel bridge in Amsterdam

  • 13 Jun 2016

howardchapmanHoward Chapman, Buildingtalk Editor at Vision London last week to hear Tim Geurtjens explain how, in 2017, a full-size pedestrian bridge will be constructed by two robots 3-D printing the complete steel structure in-situ over a canal in Amsterdam. Amazing!

Are 3-D printers and robots the future for the construction industry?

Tim Geurtjens, chief technology officer of Joris Laarman Lab and its spinoff R&D company called MX3D, was at Vision London last week to offer us his vision of the future for construction.

He gave a short resume about the rapid growth in 3-D printer technology and how the future of construction will be impacted by a new generation of multiaxis industrial robots equipped with extruding tools controlled by 3-D printer software.

From 3-D printing furniture to printing bridges

Joris Laarman Lab in Amsterdam adopted 3-D printing early to enable them to create experimental furniture and artwork. But existing printers couldn’t produce their larger, more ambitious creations. So the team built its own system, called multiaxis 3-D printing, or MX3D.

Watch this video of a large scale 3d printed bronze construction output via a robot.

This development will take a big leap forward next year when a full-size pedestrian bridge will be constructed by MX3D using two robots printing the steel structure in-situ over a canal in Amsterdam.

MX3D printing a steel bridge

3d bridge

An artist’s rendering of the MX3D printing a steel bridge

For the past 12 years, the Joris Laarman Lab in Amsterdam has crafted experimental furniture and artwork. To produce their more ambitious designs, Laarman and his partners adopted 3-D printing early on. But existing printers couldn’t produce their larger creations. So the team built its own system, called multiaxis 3-D printing, or MX3D.

Tim Geurtjens: “We thought, why not get an industrial robot, attach an advanced welding machine to it, and see what it does? To showcase MX3D’s ability to create durable, large-scale objects, the team now plan to print a fully functioning steel bridge in Amsterdam. This project will demonstrate the technology and inspire people at the same time”.

Are robots the future for construction?

3d stuttgart

Robotically fabricated pavilion by University of Stuttgart students

According to architects including Wolf D Prix and BIG’s Kai-Uwe Bergmann, robots are the future of the construction industry. Dezeen magazine offered a selection of projects and great images to show what the robot-made buildings of the future might look like, including how robots might work with cutting-edge materials like carbon fibre, bioplastic and laminated wood.

One example was a robotically fabricated pavilion by University of Stuttgart students is based on sea-urchin shells.

Tim finished his presentation at Vision London by showing a new inspiring video of the Amsterdam bridge project. I hope to have this shortly for you to watch on Buildingtalk. In the meantime here is a video about the opening of the MX3D facility last year.

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