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After four years of planning and research, the world’s first 3D printed walkway was recently opened to the public in Europe.
The nearly 40-foot bridge, unveiled last month, was built by Dutch company MX3D and will serve as a “living laboratory” in downtown Amsterdam.
Researchers and engineers at Imperial College London were able to 3D print the bridge, which now serves pedestrians and cyclists crossing Amsterdam’s Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal.
“A 3D printed steel structure large and strong enough to handle foot traffic has never been built before,” Leroy Gardner, professor at Imperial College London, said in a press release.
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Designers first created the concept of the bridge in 2015, with the aim of creating an “exceptionally efficient structure,” emphasizing both simplicity and safety, according to Popular Mechanics.
“We tested and simulated the structure and its components throughout the printing process and upon completion, and it’s fantastic to see it finally open to the public,” Gardner said.
Now that the bridge is unveiled, researchers at Imperial College London will start collecting real-time data to monitor its behavior in foot and cycle traffic.
“Research into this new technology for the construction industry has enormous potential for the future,” said Craig Buchanan, Imperial College London co-contributor. “It has been fascinating and we are delighted that the structure is now ready for use. ”