It not only connects two sides of a canal, it connects us to a future filled with 3D-printing possibilities.
In the Baoshan district of Shanghai, a team of Tsinghua University engineers led by Professor Xu Weiguo, have unveiled the largest 3D-printed concrete bridge in the world.
The bridge spans 26.3 metres with a width of 3.6 metres and was developed using a 3D-printing concrete system.
To be more specific, the engineers built a 1:4 scale model to test out the bridge’s maximum live load requirements.
They then fabricated the actual structure using a locally developed system involving “digital architectural design, printing path generation, operation control system, and state of the art printing tools,” wrote Design Boom.
The components – a total of 44 hollowed out concrete blocks to lay the bridge, and 68 concrete units for the handrails – were entirely printed with two robotic arms over a span of 19 days.
The result of this complex, yet efficient, process is a bridge that’s more durable and cost-effective to build than traditional construction techniques.
Without the need for templates and reinforcing bars, the structure saved 33 percent more money.
Even better, it also comes with sensors that collect force and deformation data, which will be used to improve 3D-printing capabilities in the future.
Professor Xu and his team hope to make housing more affordable by 3D-printing a house next.
Via Design Boom