Robotic arms building bridge

It will be a first for Amsterdam. Next year, drunk hooligans and other visitors to the Red Light District can find their way from one side of Oudezijds Voorburgwal to the other via a steel pedestrian bridge put together by robots using a 3D-printing technique.

It is the brainchild of designer Joris Laarman. He is working on the bridge with TU Delft researchers, including IDE’s Dr Jouke Verlinden. “The great thing about steel is that you can use it to make slender lightweight truss structures that are extremely strong because they bear the weight optimally”, Verlinden says.

“We are using a welding technique in which two robot arms build the bridge drop by drop”, Verlinden continues. “This principle has had very little research conducted into it. It is a repetitive and very precise process, releasing a lot of gas and radiation, so really needs to be done by robots.”

The original idea was to have the robots put it together in situ, at Amsterdam’s Oudezijds Voorburgwal, but that was too dangerous. “The Council refused to allow it.” The bridge will have a span of eight metres and will be built in Amsterdam at the start-up MX3D, co-founded by Laarman. Earlier this year, their workshop produced a complete 3D-printed steel bicycle, also made in alliance with people from IDE.

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