Three-dimensional printing is leaving the confines of printers and finding its way into the worlds of civil engineering and architecture. One such example comes from MX3D, which is replacing the layering process in regular additive manufacturing with 6-axis industrial robots to extrude curved lines, creating 3D structures out in the open. Currently, the robots are building a steel bridge that will span a canal in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
MX3D’s team started out by using a super-fast curing resin to draw out long extruded lines in 3D coordinates that will not lose their intended curve due to gravity. Then welders were added to the robot end pieces so that they could work with metals. The robots generate sparks as they weld and extrude molten steel lines that harden almost instantly, maintaining their original and intended curvature. The company describes the process as “drawing in air” to produce a structurally sound “complex sculpture of lines.”
Watch a video on the 3D-printed bridge, courtesy of Engineering TV, below:
The project is testing the new Autodesk software’s ability to guide the robots without the need of human intervention. Because MX3D is shying away from conventional 3D-printing boxes, they call it “Out-of-the-Box” printing, made possible by the 6-axis robots’ long reach, programmability in 3D coordinates, and low weight. Now, the innovative method allows them to build a bridge over a waterway.