By Nigel Wynn
The world's first 3D-printed concrete cycle bridge has opened in the Netherlands.
The structure was created at the Eindhoven University of Technology (EUT) and installed as part of a new road around Gemert village, constructed by BAM Infra.
A video of the bridge being made is mesmerising, as a huge computer-controlled 'printer' squirts out layers of concrete to build up the components of the bridge. The concrete sections are reinforced with steel cable.
In total, the bridge is eight metres long and 3.5 metres wide. It was tested with a five-tonne weight – far more than will ever cross it in everyday use.
EUT says that the bridge is designed to last for 30 years, and be used daily by hundreds of cyclists.
It is thought that the creation of the structure produces less CO2 emisions that traditional methods of concrete construction, as there is no concrete waste and no forming structures. It also takes less time to construct.
"Another benefit lies in the freedom of form: the printer can make any desired shape, whereas conventional concrete shapes tend to be unwieldy in shape due to use of formwork," says EUT.
EUT is using its experience of building the cycle bridge to create larger structures, including five 3D-printed houses. Currently the only limiting factor is the size of elements that the 3D printer can accommodate.
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