The world’s first 3D-printed reinforced concrete bridge is almost complete
Eindhoven University of Technology has a massive 3D printer capable of printing immense objects - and it’s currently creating the world’s first 3D-printed reinforced concrete bridge.
The bridge will be installed this month in the small Dutch town of Gemert, and it will be the first of its kind thanks to an innovative printing technique that reduces waste.
Technically, Madrid introduced the world’s first 3D-printed bridge earlier this year - but the Gemert bridge will be built using a special process that reinforces the concrete layers with steel cables as the concrete blocks are formed. This technique - which was was developed by a team of researchers working with Teho Salat, a professor of concrete construction - ensures that the bridge’s concrete is “pre-stressed” in order to avoid the typical tensile stress that often occurs in concrete construction.
The concrete used to print the bridge is thicker than normal, so it retains its form as it is printed. This is important because it means little - if any - concrete is wasted. Concrete production releases carbon dioxide, so reducing waste is incredibly important for the environment. Additionally, printing with moldable concrete means there’s no need for formwork, again reducing the amount of materials needed for construction.
Working in collaboration with Dutch company BAM Infra, the team has spent two months printing the pieces, which will then be fused together to construct the bridge. The structure is slated to be installed in Gemert in late September.