Yes, really! Amsterdam-based innovators, who already developed robots that can print plastic and metal, announced in a recent news release that they are preparing a 3D printed steel bridge for pedestrians.
The project is a collaboration between MX3D, design software company Autodesk, construction company Heijmans (that also brought us the Van Gogh starry cycle path) and others. Bridge designer Joris Laarman said that "this bridge will show how 3D printing finally enters the world of large-scale, functional objects and sustainable materials while allowing unprecedented freedom of form." Laarman's avant-garde project will undoubtedly display innovative ways of building and make a big step forward towards highly automated and environmentally friendly construction practices.
MX3D and the City of Amsterdam have not yet revealed the exact location; however, we do know that the bridge will be set up over one of the iconic old canals in the city center of Amsterdam. According to Laarman "the symbolism of the bridge is a beautiful metaphor to connect the technology of the future with the old city, in a way that brings out the best of both worlds."
You will be able to follow the progress of the project at the nearby visitor center, which will be opened from September 2015. Construction is set to finish in 2017.
What is 3D printing anyway and what advantages does it bring to the future of constructing? 3D printing basically means creating solid 3D objects, building them layer by layer, from a digital file. It will most likely revolutionize the construction industry, while the less expensive process, lower material usage and lower labor costs could (among other things) result in increased housing affordability.