What links Stainless Steel, 3D Printing and Terry Pratchett?

What links Stainless Steel, 3D Printing and Terry Pratchett?

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Amsterdam has a brand new bridge that crosses one of the oldest and most famous canals in the centre of Amsterdam, the Oudezijds Achterburgwal. And it's no ordinary bridge.... oh no... it's a 3D Printed Stainless Steel one, and it's really rather smart. The company MX3D 3D printed this fully functional stainless steel bridge using industrial robots with purpose-built tools and bespoke software to control them. This unique approach has created a 3D printed strong, complex and graceful structure made entirely out of Stainless Steel.

This new 12-metre Stainless Steel pedestrian bridge was designed by Joris Laarma, and has a slight Antoni Gaudí look about it (famous for the still-incomplete Sagrada Família in Spain). In total from start to finish the project took six years,

The bridge, which was fabricated from stainless steel rods by six-axis robotic arms equipped with welding gear, used 4,500 kilograms of stainless steel. It took the 3D printing robots at MX3D six months to finish printing, after which it was craned into position over the canal.

"This robotic technology finally allows larger optimised designs to be 3D-printed in metal," said MX3D co-founder Gijs van der Velden.

The future potential of 3D printing Stainless Steel products is an exciting one. And what's the link to Terry Pratchett I hear you ask? ... well he once mentioned Amsterdam in a quote: ‘My dream holiday would be a) a ticket to Amsterdam b) immunity from prosecution and c) a baseball bat.’ – Terry Pratchett.