3D printed steel pedestrian bridge



3D Printed Steel Pedestrian Bridge Will Soon Span an Amsterdam Canal

The oldest of Amsterdam’s approximately 1,280 bridges in use dates back to 1648. The city is famous for its beautiful canals and waterways, and Dutch engineers have long made their names in constructing ways around the “Venice of the North.” Tourists are encouraged to visit one particular bridge on the Herengracht canal, from which they can see 15 bridges in one view. In addition to bridges, the Netherlands has been gaining fame across the board for its reputation in the global 3D printing arena.


Now, the two are being brought together in an amazing feat of engineering prowess asHeijmans, MX3D, and Joris Laarman Lab collaborate on a first-of-its-kind project: a 3D printed steel pedestrian bridge that will span one of Amsterdam’s historic canals.

“We came to the conclusion that a bridge over the old canals of Amsterdam would be a fantastic metaphor for connecting the technology of the future with the city’s historic past, in a way which would reveal the best aspects of both worlds,” said Joris Laarman, who is designing the bridge. “I strongly believe in the future of digital manufacturing and local production – it’s a ‘new form of craftsmanship’. This bridge can show how 3D printing has finally entered the world of large-scale functional objects and sustainable materials, while enabling unrivalled freedom of design.”


The ambitious project centers on startupMX3D’s technology, which uses 6-axis robotic machines to create structures from steel literally in mid-air. Plans for building the bridge involve using two (or more) of these machines to effectively begin construction on either bank of the canal and build toward one another, meeting in the middle.

While plans for the bridge’s location have not yet been made public, MX3D will, along with the city of Amsterdam, soon make this announcement. A visitor center will also be open to the public with extensive information available, starting in September.

“What distinguishes our technology from traditional 3D printing methods is that we work according to the ‘Printing Outside the Box’ principle,” said MX3D CTO Tim Geurtjens. “By printing with 6-axis industrial robots, we are no longer limited to a square box in which everything happens. Printing a functional, life-size bridge is of course the ideal way to showcase the endless possibilities of this technique.”


For its part, Heijmans says, it will “contribute its knowledge of and experience in construction and technology to print the bridge.” Among other supporters in this project are Autodesk, whose technology Laarman has been using in the design process, as well as sponsors including ABB, Air Liquide, Delcam, Lenovo, and Within, and public partners Amsterdam City Council, AMS, and TU Delft.

Have you heard of other large-scale, usable construction projects going up around the world that rely on 3D printing technology? Let us know about them in the 3D Printed Pedestrian Bridge in Amsterdam forum thread over at 3DPB.com.






by  | JUNE 11, 2015

3D printed titanium jaw implant for a sea turtle



Turkish Turtle Receives 3D Printed Titanium Jaw

3DPrint.com head office is stationed in sunny Florida, I’m here in northeast Ohio, where we’re still waiting in mid-May for spring to settle in for sure. Back in February, I skipped out on Cleveland’s -20°F cold front and hopped a plane down to visit a friend in south Florida for a week. As my fiancé and family continued to freeze, my friend asked if I wanted to go down to the ocean one evening, so we could see if the sea turtles were coming in. Aside from my obvious cheer at weather that was actually a ‘real feel’ of a solid 100° temperature difference (it’s a different world, going from -20° to 80° in one day) and frolicking beachside, I was so excited to go see the turtles–few animals in nature are quite as impressive, long-lived, and stately as the sea turtle.

Seven species of sea turtle currently live around the world, and four are classified as either “endangered” or “critically endangered,” with another two being “vulnerable” to joining their ranks. One of the endangered species, the Caretta caretta or loggerhead sea turtle, has a lifespan of up to almost 70 years and can be found in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans, as well as the Mediterranean Sea–all places where, especially since they need to lay their eggs on land, they are unfortunately susceptible to the negative environmental influence brought about by humans.


In Turkey, a loggerhead sea turtle was recently brought to the Sea Turtle Research, Rescue and Rehabilitation Center at Pamukkale University (PAU). The turtle, which they called AKUT3, had significant damage to its upper and lower jaws, and the team at PAU noted that the turtle was unable to feed on its own in the wild.

The Sea Turtle Research, Rescue and Rehabilitation Center at PAU was quick to help, and it turned out that the turtle’s best chance for healing came courtesy of 3D printing. The Center’s director, Prof. Dr. Yakup Kaska, noted that 3D technology proved to be the best hope for the turtle–and this particular operation would represent the first time in the world that a sea turtle would benefit from the technology.


BTech Innovation, “the first private R&D corporation in Turkey,” has extensive experience with 3D technology for medical applications–creating medical-grade implants, models, and prostheses–and came to the turtle’s aid. Using CT scans from the turtle’s veterinary care, the BTech team used the Mimics Innovation Suite from Materialise to create a 3D model of the affected areas of the turtle’s jaws. Ultimately, BTech took the models created to design an implant for the turtle, 3D printing it in titanium.

jaw closeup

The surgery was a success and the patient is recovering quite nicely, though that process is sure in itself to require some time. The turtle’s veterinary surgeon, Prof. Dr. Anas M. Anderson, noted that the turtle did not show any signs of rejecting the implant, following a post-op examination 18 days after the procedure.

While I didn’t actually get to see any sea turtles on my Floridian jaunt a few months ago, it’s wonderful to know that thanks to the efforts of caring veterinary teams around the world, there will still be more chances to see these incredible, endangered gentle giants as their health needs can be met and their lives saved.

Have you heard of similar stories of 3D printed implants in the veterinary world? Let us know what you think of this one in the 3D Printed Titanium Jaw Implant for a Sea Turtle forum thread over at 3DPB.com.

turtle jaw



by   | MAY 14, 2015

3D printed honeycombs


honey gif

3D Printed Honeycombs Allow Beekeepers to Get Honey “On Tap” – Over $12 Million Raised on Indiegogo

A friend of mine knows a nearby beekeeper from whom we can get some great, fresh, local honey, which I use to liven up my tea…and smoothies, desserts, and a variety of other treats that could use that nice, sweet touch. Local honey is not only tasty and ecologically sound, but it also has the benefit of adding fortifications against pollens in the area that add to seasonal allergies. My fiancé dreams of the day we own a nice house with lots of backyard space so he can keep a small hive back there to produce our own honey. I’ve been telling him no on that front, because beekeeping isn’t an easy, cheap, or necessarily safe hobby, and it seems pretty difficult to harvest just minute amounts of fresh honey. While I’m not ready to give my blessing on that front quite yet, a new means of beekeeping has just emerged that truly enhances almost every aspect of that work.

Cedar and Stu Anderson

A father-son team out of Australia, Stuart Anderson and his son Cedar Anderson, have been working for more than a decade to come up with a better way to harvest honey. Their goals included increasing production, decreasing bother to the bees, and being able to mass produce the winning concept in order to maximize the benefits across the worldwide beekeeping community.

The Anderson family have been beekeepers for four generations (this family of Andersons; no relation to yours truly!) and Cedar and Stuart came up with the idea to split the cells and frames several years ago. About three years ago, Stuart came up with the idea that ultimately became Flow Hive.

“There was this one moment when we were well along the path with a particular patent,” Cedar said. “Dad just moved his hands in a particular way and in two seconds I understood exactly what he meant. Then the entire design changed.”

Flow Hive is a novel means of adding a man-made, plastic honeycomb starter frame into the beehive. The frame’s honeycomb structures are completed by the bees, which also cap them off with their wax as they produce honey. When the combs are full, harvesting–traditionally a laborious effort that disrupts the entire hive as the frames are removed, taken to other locations to clean and then purify the honey, and then returned to the hive, again disrupting the bees–is literally the matter of turning a handle.

The ingenious idea centers on the honeycomb structures. The frames are created via 3D printing, using a BPA-free, food-grade plastic. The 5.8mm honeycomb cells are designed to each break apart at the turn of the handle, allowing the gathered honey to flow downward. Once the honey reaches the bottom of the frame, it pours out through a spout that is attached. The splits in the cells are also large enough to ensure bees cannot catch a leg or wing in it.


The concept, while it may seem simple, is making a huge splash among beekeeping aficionados. In fact, the Indiegogo campaign for the Flow Hive was fully funded within a matter of minutes and broke the record for the most fully funded international campaign more than a month before it concluded. At its conclusion last week, the Anderson team raised a grand total of $12,203,195 (USD, despite being an Australian campaign), thanks to a whopping 36,526 backers. That’s an incredible 17,433% over the original $70,000 goal. That original goal, in fact, was reached in just 477 seconds–that’s not even a full eight minutes.

Once they had the design, 3D modeling helped them to render it just so, and then 3D printing brought the cells to life. Information about just what production systems they used along the way seems unavailable, though the pair has been quite open with most of their design process and inspirations, even doing a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) earlier this month.

Have you ever tried beekeeping? Let us know if you think the Flow Hive system might be something you’d be interested in using for your own drones and queen. Join the discussion in the Flow Hive forum thread over at 3DPB.com.

flow light

flow hive frame

flow hive

honey combs


how it works


by  | APRIL 27, 2015