It’s not yet feasible or cost effective to erect a 20-story building with a 3D printer, but printing a bridge is certainly a good start.
A Dutch startup is close to completing that exact feat.
MX3D will use its specialized printer to build a steel footbridge across an Amsterdam canal. Robotic arms will essentially draw 3D metal in midair to create a steel structure. If you can’t wrap your head around that right now, check out this video:
Mounted with specially developed welding heads, the robots could be positioned in one of two ways on the bridge. One scenario would place two robots on the same side of the bridge but on opposite sides of the footpath. Alternatively, the robots could be placed at opposite banks and meet in the middle like the kiss scene in The Lady and the Tramp. The robots could print their own support structures as they move along or they could be mounted on moored barges in the canal.
“The final strategy has yet to be decided,” MX3D Co-founder and CTO Tim Geurtjens told us via email. “We will most likely reveal the final location of the bridge next month.”
Check out this story in The Economist for more information and see a collage of MX3D’s photos below.