A 3D-printed steel bridge from Heijmans and MX3D to inspire the automatic construction site in future

A 3D-printed steel bridge from Heijmans and MX3D to inspire the automatic construction site in future

Construction phase is one of the important aspects of civil engineering structures. The success of a project depends on how well the construction phase is carried out. Efficient and economical construction is particularly important because of the increasing complexity of structures being built, the availability of improved materials and construction equipment. With an automation in construction industry we may achieve many advantages over the traditional way of construction. The long strive of automation in construction industry could come to an end with new innovation of Heijmans' technique of building a 3D printed steel bridge.

Heijmans collaborates on the 3D printing of a steel bridge that will be located in the centre of Amsterdam. The project was initiated by Dutch start-up MX3D. Heijmans will contribute its knowledge of and experience in construction and technology to print the bridge. The bridge is designed by Dutch designer Joris Laarman.

Heijmans is a listed company that combines activities related to property development, residential building, non-residential building, roads and civil engineering in the working areas living, working and connecting. Heijmans is active in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany and as a technology partners delivers know-how and concepts in various markets.

Image credit: Heijmans/Max 3D

The 'automatic construction site' is a concept where all parts of the construction process are coordinated, which causes energy to be minimised and construction-related waste to be eliminated.

The collaboration is the next example of Heijmans’ innovative way of building the ‘spatial contours of tomorrow’. As Innovation is essential in order to realise sustainable and effective solutions. The MX3D-project being a natural step for Heijmans in realising a more automatic construction site. Thanks to ICT and robotics new possibilities arise in the area of design, use of materials, logistics and safety.

The goal behind the experimental 3D-printing project is the eventual creation of an automatic construction site. According to Jan van de Ven, Heijmans’ Manager of Business Development, an automatic construction site would not only be dependable and fully managed, but would also be environmentally friendly because of its energy-efficiency processes and minimization of construction waste. The use of 3D printing for construction purposes also has benefits in the design sector and, once popularized, can revolutionize the way we approach the design/build process.


Video credit: Heijmans/Max 3D

“Construction and design are currently rather separate factors in construction – the architect designs something and the constructor interprets the design and builds what he thinks is needed,” says Jurre van der Ven, Heijmans’ Innovation Manager. “But using 3D printing for a bridge makes design and construction operates hand-in-hand. For instance, both activities are done at the same time, instead of first building the structure and then adding the design later. This means we will also have to start looking at design in a completely different manner.”

The location of the bridge has not yet been determined but will be announced soon. The pedestrian bridge will span one of Amsterdam’s old canals and has been described by designer Joris Laarman as a “fantastic metaphor for connecting the technology of the future with the city’s historic past, in a way which would reveal the best aspects of both worlds.” A visitor center will open in September 2015 and serve as an educational public space that will track the progress of the project.

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