The ‘World’s Longest’ 3D-Printed Concrete Bridge Erected in The Netherlands

In the Netherlands, a country famous for all manner of methods for surmounting aquatic obstacles, an engineering company recently completed the world’s largest 3D-printed bridge.

Built in Nijmegen, the bridge spans 95 feet (29 meters) across a canal, and was completed through a collaboration from the Eindhoven Institute of Technology, a pair of engineering firms, and planning aid from the government.

It surpasses by 10 feet the previous record-holding 3D-printed bridge in China, and helps demonstrate the scope of 3D printing advantages for both designers and policy makers. Among these are the facts that 3D printers use far less material than traditional construction techniques, and offer greater creative possibilities for designers.

“The city of Nijmegen is very honored to receive this innovative 3D printed bridge,” said Alderman Bert Velthuis of Nijmegen City Council. “We are a city of bridges, and this special, innovative bridge is a wonderful addition. The bridge leads to connection: in the design and construction phase it connected the different partners, and from now on the bridge connects our residents.”

The bridge is striking to look at, with sculpted conical feet that gives it a shape a little like that of a caterpillar.

The CEO of the 3D-printing firm Weber Benelux stated the bridge, that was designed on a computer and printed piece by piece before being assembled on site, required 50% less material to create as the printer only deposits concrete where it’s absolutely needed for structural integrity.

Furthermore, the mold and design will be there in the Weber Benelux Nijmegen site for years to come, meaning the bridge can be quickly commissioned and printed again with only minor tweaks, a reproducibility rare in large civic projects, and which could save tens of thousands in design, surveying, and consulting costs.

“Nijmegen has had a fantastic year as [it was named] European Green Capital,” said Alderman of the municipality of Nijmegen Harriët Tiemens, in a 2019 statement on the bridge’s announcement. “A new innovative sustainable 3D-printed bridge is a nice addition to this.”