Recently, we reported on 3D printing techniques that could potentially bring scaled prototyping to the International Space Station, but let’s not forget the capacity for large scale 3D printing applications right here on earth.
How about infrastructure?
The architecture and design news source Inhabitat is reporting that researchers at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands have nearly completed the first 3D printed reinforced concrete bridge.
While other bridges have been constructed using 3D printing techniques, this is the first of its kind to use what is described as a unique process to reinforce concrete layers with steel cables, concurrently as the concrete blocks themselves are created. The idea is to develop a bridge with “pre-stressed” concrete, which can circumvent problems that can often occur with tensile stress down the line.
The other benefit to this new process is that the concrete retains its form as it’s printed, through the use of thicker-than-normal concrete. The result is a process that eliminates much of the material waste that can occur in other concrete forming techniques. Inhabitat says the traditional processes are heavy in carbon dioxide release, so any improvements in waste reduction are good for the environment.
At this stage, the bridge has taken about two months to print, and it’s due to be fused and constructed before being installed in a small Dutch town in late September.