There are so many uses for a 3D printer today in business and prototyping that the use of the devices will continue to grow. A new type of 3D printer has been created that is designed to print much larger projects that the typical 3D printer in a lab or business can handle. Typically, we think of a 3D printer as only making small components. The 3D printing robotic arms created by Autodesk and MX3D can print bridges.
The first real use of the new robotic arm 3D printer outside of testing will be in 2017 when a Dutch designer named Joris Laarman will take the 3D printing robot arms to a canal in the Netherlands, turn them on, and leave. Two months later when he comes back the robots will have printed a bridge that spans a canal and is a one of a kind artwork.
The 3D printers are able to create the bride using steel and can create details small enough to make the bridge a one of a kind artistic piece. The bridge created for the project won’t be for looks only; it will actually be used to handle foot traffic across the canal for decades to come. The material the robot uses to print the bridge is a mix of resin and metal and the bots work in mid-air.
When finished the bridge will be 24-feet long and the design will look much more handcrafted than a normal bridge. The steel composite that the MX3D printer will use was created by the University of Delft and is as strong as regular steel, but can be printed out drop-by-drop. The team working on the project is focusing on making the robot printers be able to correct errors that will happen in real world use that if left unchecked could harm the project.