The Netherlands is famous for its love of all things bike-related, but its latest design feat is making engineering history. A new bicycle bridge has opened in the town of Gemert, connecting the two sides of the Peelse Loop canal. The unassuming structure may not appear historic at first glance, but it is the product of a collaboration between the Technical University of Eindhoven and BAM Infra to create the world’s first 3D-printed reinforced concrete bridge.
The bridge took three months of printing, and more than 800 layers of reinforced concrete to create. The printed sections received reinforcement from steel cabling, to give the eight-metre structure a load capacity of more than 5 tonnes.
The novel construction method uses less concrete than a traditional mould design. The printer can add concrete layers to the precise areas that require more reinforcement. This reduces the carbon footprint of the construction process and allows for more elaborate and detailed shapes that cannot be achieved with traditional mould methods.
The bridge is expected to stand for at least 30 years and will accommodate hundreds of cyclists each day in its busy location. The collaboration is now working on the 3D-printing and construction of five houses.