This Co.Design article reads like the back of a sci-fi novel:
In 2017, Dutch designer Joris Laarman will wheel a robot to the brink of a canal in Amsterdam. He’ll hit an “on” button. He’ll walk away. And when he comes back two months later, the Netherlands will have a new, one-of-a-kind bridge, 3-D printed in a steel arc over the waters. This isn’t some proof-of-concept, either: when it’s done, it will be as strong and as any other bridge. People will be able to walk back and forth over it for decades.
To do this, Laarman’s company, MX3D has developed a six-axis robot that seems to be able to pull metal sculptures from thin air.
Laarman has been showing the MX3D metal printer for the past year, but wants to ramp up his creation in advance of its ultimate test.
“We thought to ourselves: what is the most iconic thing we could print in public that would show off what our technology is capable of?” Laarman says in a phone interview. “This being the Netherlands, we decided a bridge over an old city canal was a pretty good choice. Not only is it good for publicity, but if MX3D can construct a bridge out of thin air, it can construct anything.”
The bridge will be forged from a steel composite in a process similar to the one in the video below.
Though no final concept for the bridge has been locked, these are a few of the concepts the design team is floating around. Each is designed to be as strong and reliable as any other bridge used for foot traffic.
It’s easy to dismiss the timeline and the scale of this project, but, realistically, 3D printing technologies like this one will build the skylines of the future, even if they aren’t on this planet.
Besides, it’s important that we distract robots with tasks like bridge-building so they don’t remember to rise up and destroy us. Off you go, robots!