The city is working with Dutch robot company MX3D and engineering software company Autodesk to create a 3D-printed bridge over a canal there, though an exact location has not yet been released.
MX3D, which is known for 3D printing complex metal shapes in midair without any support structures, is taking on the bridge as its next project.
The bridge is slated for completion in 2017, but will reportedly only take two months to print. According to Fast Company, the bridge will be about 24 feet in length.
MX3D claims its 3D printing technology is more affordable and scalable than others, thanks to robots that can move in six directions (six-axis robots) and print with a variety of strong materials.
Most 3D printers, like the popular MakerBot Replicator, are small boxes that allow objects to be printed inside. By taking the printer out of the box, much more complex, larger structures can be built. In a YouTube video, MX3D describes the process as “drawing in midair”; the ability to do this with high-strength steels and other composites is particularly unique.
MX3D added that building a bridge would be the “ideal way to showcase the endless possibilities of this technique.” Another bonus? It could potentially make building bridges safer, faster and cheaper.
If the project is successful, the U.S. government and local municipalities could take notice. Bridges in the U.S. are, by most measures, in pretty bad shape. A 2013 report graded U.S. bridge as a C+, stating that one in nine bridges are “structurally deficient.” Fixing all those bridges would, the Federal Highway Administration predicted, cost tens of billions of dollars.