In recent years there has been talk of 3D printing and the impact this can have on the creation of new alternatives that improve different productive sectors.

The combination of industrial robots with 3D printing technology has become a driving force for manufacturing objects on a large scale with the application of high precision and repeatability. As manufacturing technology advances, it has become a major solution for intelligent manufacturing.

The integration of an industrial arm and 3D printing robotic equipment has generated benefits such as the ability to design large-scale objects with complicated geometries and taking advantage of the degrees of freedom provided by the robot to obtain higher product quality in a faster and more profitable way.

They also contribute to sustainable manufacturing by using the right material precisely and in the right amount in the right place and also reduce material waste.

Among the industries that have already included 3D printing robotic automation are the construction industry and architecture which have carried out projects such as building houses, allowing them to experiment with different shapes and materials.

Currently we can see that bridges are already being designed creating true sculptural works. The Dutch MX3D startup has developed an additive manufacturing method that can be used to print metal and resins in the air without platforms or support structures.

MX3D uses ABB’s 6-axis multi-purpose industrial robots together with advanced welding equipment and control software to design structures of different sizes without limiting the working space.

The bridge was designed by Joris Laarman, a renowned Dutch designer, artist and entrepreneur, famous for working with emerging technology. The 12 meter long pedestrian bridge was built by robots from layers of cast steel. This led to the programming of robotic arms to control large scale welding machines. This project involved mathematicians from the Alan Turing Institute and Arup engineers working with MX3D to create a network of intelligent sensors on the bridge to add the high-tech point.

The bridge design integrated sensors designed to monitor the performance of the bridge, collecting data such as tension, rotation, load, displacement and vibration. The data will be used to verify how many people are crossing the bridge and at what speed, structural integrity and environment.

MX3D explained, “The work on this 3D printed bridge will contribute to the future of safe, efficient, data-based engineering by monitoring the structure as thousands of people and bicycles cross the bridge every hour once in place.

This is a new and efficient system that creates strong and complex structures in virtually any size or shape. That will bring benefits to digital production.