On Tuesday, October 17, officials in the Dutch town of Gemert donned hard hats, kicked up their kickstands, and pedaled their bikes about 26 feet over a canal via a small orange bridge.
But you know what they say: one small trip for Dutch officials, one giant leap for infrastructural technology. This small bridge happens to be the first one ever to be 3D-printed out of reinforced concrete.
Although the small bridge is designed for bikes, it was tested for safety to bear loads of up to two tonnes https://t.co/qSSaEDTWAI— AFP news agency (@AFP) October 17, 2017
As Agence France-Presse reports, the bridge was created at the Eindhoven University of Technology, in conjunction with BAM Infra construction company. Work started three months ago, and involved printing about 800 layers of the material, which was both reinforced and pre-stressed. Its designers say it can support up to 2.2 tons of weight, although it is meant to be used by bikers and pedestrians.
As Engadget wrote back in June, this building strategy has one main advantage over standard mold-based techniques: it uses far less concrete, which saves resources. (This video shows the process, which involves a lot of curlicues.) It also makes it possible to build things in fantastical shapes, a feature some architects are excited about.
This particular bridge is fairly standard. But deep in its carefully layered core, it knows it’s special.
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