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3D printing a concrete bridge — a new era for construction?

It’s no secret that we’re huge fans of 3D printing with concrete here at RP Platform. While this technology is still very much in its infancy, the ongoing research at institutions like the University of Loughborough is already yielding great things. Whether it’s printing entire structures on-site, or printing individual parts of a building at specialist facilities, 3D printing technology offers the construction industry a wide range of opportunities to maximise efficiency, quality and health & safety on sites around the world.

However, to fully realise this potential, we need to see more examples of successful projects where the theory has been put into practice. This is the key to establishing the new technology as a viable tool for ‘real world’ construction sites, and identifying the areas in which it will prove most useful.

One recent concrete printing project that caught our eye was the University of Eindhoven’s 3D printed cycle bridge, which will be part of the ring road around Gemert, once construction is complete by September. Construction of the new bridge is taking place using the University of Eindhoven’s (TUE) large-scale 3D printer, which is capable of printing structures of up to 11 metres in height.

TUE’s printing method is designed to print concrete in fine detail, allowing for the creation of complex structures at any size, with minimal material waste. For this project, the printer’s high level of precision is being used to its fullest advantage, with the bridge’s steel reinforcements being printed at the same time as the concrete. Each component of the bridge will be printed individually at TUE’s facilities using this approach, then assembled on-site.

We are looking forward to seeing the finished bridge once it is complete. Based on early tests with scale models, the end result will not only be aesthetically pleasing, but highly durable and ready for regular use from the day it is unveiled. The success of this project should provide a huge boost to the reputation of 3D printing in the construction sector and hopefully open the door for more innovative projects like this.