World’s first 3D-printed footbridge

engineering careers  World’s first 3D-printed footbridge

In a world first the Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) has unveiled a first 3D-printed pedestrian bridge.

The bridge spans 40 ft (12 m) and measures 5.7 ft (1.75 m) wide and was installed at Castilla-La Mancha in Alcobendas, a park in central Madrid. It is made up of eight separate 3D-printed parts.

While large-scale 3D printing has become more widespread, with many types of materials are currently being experimented with, few are designed to be load bearing.

The IAAC team behind the bridge – which was inaugurated last month – look to have taken inspiration from the organic works of Spain’s most well-known architect Antoni Gaudi.

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The IAAC stated that the project “reflects the complexities of nature’s forms, was developed through parametric design, which allows to optimise the distribution of materials and minimise the amount of waste by recycling the raw material during manufacture.”

“The computational design also allows maximizing the structural performance, being able to dispose of the material only where it is needed, with total freedom of forms, maintaining the porosity thanks to the application of generative algorithms and challenging the traditional techniques of construction.”


While the final printed product might look like a styrofoam prop you would expect to see in a Hobbit movie it is a sign of things to come.

Last year, Dubai showcased a 3D-printed office building which used a custom-built printer to exuded a cement mixture, and an Italian engineering company worked on massive 3D printers that can build structures out of mud, clay or natural fibres.

MX3D, a Dutch printing firm is planning on building a steel bridge across a canal in Amsterdam. The company intends to use a innovative robotic 3D-printing technology that will allow structures to be created at the site in mid-air.

About the Bridge

  • It is constructed out of a fused concrete powder micro-reinforced with thermoplastic polypropylene
  • It spans 40 ft (12 m) and measures 5.7 ft (1.75 m) wide
  • It has proved safe for the IAAC team
  • It was developed in collaboration with a team of architects and engineers
  • It is constructed out of a fused concrete powder micro-reinforced with thermoplastic polypropylene.
  • Leading pioneer in giant 3D-printing technique, Enrico Dini, was a principle collaborator with his D-Shape printer allowing for the creation of this novel structure.

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