Madrid gets world’s first 3D-printed footbridge

The Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) has designed the world’s first 3D-printed pedestrian bridge. Installed in the urban park of Castilla-La Mancha in Alcobendas, Madrid, and made up of eight separate 3D-printed parts, the bridge spans 40 ft (12 m) and measures 5.7 ft (1.75 m) wide.

The world’s first 3D-printed pedestrian bridge sits in an urban park south of Madrid (Credit: IAAC)

Developed in collaboration with a multidisciplinary team of architects and engineers, the bridge is constructed out of a fused concrete powder micro-reinforced with thermoplastic polypropylene. Enrico Dini, a pioneer in giant 3D-printing techniques, was a principle collaborator with his D-Shape printer allowing for the creation of this novel structure.

Large-scale 3D printing has become more widespread in recent years and many types of materials are currently being experimented with. A 3D-printed office building was constructed in Dubai in 2016 utilizing custom-built printers that exuded a cement mixture, while an Italian engineering company has been working on massive 3D printers that can build structures out of mud, clay or natural fibers.

The 3D-printed bridge design (Credit: IAAC)

Dutch printing firm, MX3D, is even planning on building a steel bridge across a canal in Amsterdam using an innovative robotic 3D-printing technology that allows structures to be created on-site, in mid-air.

The IAAC designers appear to have been inspired by the organic works of Spain’s most well-known architect Antoni Gaudi, but the final product, which was inaugurated last month, does look a little like a styrofoam prop from a Lord of the Rings movie. It may not be the most elegant looking large-scale 3D-printed structure we’ve seen, but it is certainly one of the strangest and is likely to be a sign of things to come.

The video below shows the design of the bridge.


Source: IAAC via Inhabitat