Posted on: June 21, 2021
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The 3D printed bridge at the Stoofsteeg in Amsterdam Red Light District, which was actually expected at the beginning of 2019, will be installed in about a month. Local residents and entrepreneurs are happy with it, because the emergency bridge that was previously on that spot was already removed in November 2020.
As a result, it took about half a year to go around. “We are very happy,” says a local resident, who also works in a shop on Oudezijds Achterburgwal. “It took so long. We didn’t hear anything. We also didn’t get input from the municipality.”
Entrepreneurs’ association BIZ Burgwallen sent a complaint to the municipality last week. “In addition to the lack of a necessary bridge on our canal, communication about this to our neighbors (residents) and entrepreneurs in the neighbourhood, despite repeated requests to create clarity or at least to communicate about the state of affairs.”
A few days after the letter, the municipality announced that the quay wall will be repaired from 14 June to early July. About a week later, the bridge can be supplied and placed over the water. The festive opening of the 3D bridge is expected two weeks later.
A spokesperson for the Centrum district says that the 3D printed bridge was repeatedly postponed because the quay wall turned out to be in poor condition and excavation and diving research was needed on the quay wall. The company that made the bridge says that the renovation of the quay wall was an “incredibly complicated project with all kinds of setbacks” for the municipality. The bridge has been ‘printed’ with special techniques and has been finished for a few years. Placing takes no longer than a few days in July.
The 3D-printed bridge is also a temporary bridge, which will remain in place for up to two years. After that, the original bridge is placed again. It is currently being renovated.
Several residents of the Red Light District are happy with this. “The old model fits a little better in the neighborhood.”
The Red Light District is not only famous for its brothels and coffeeshops but also for the architecture and it’s fairy tale like canals with a whole range of old bridges. With the introduction of the first 3D printed bridge made of steel, both the technology of the future and the city’s historic past will be encapsulated. The designers have taken into account this unique location and are trying to show the best of both worlds, old and new. Over the Oudezijds Achterburgwal a temporary pedestrian bridge is currently installed. It is one of the most used bridges in the Red Light District and it connects the bars, brothels and houses. As there are almost 10,000 visitors each day and around 9,000 residents, the bridge is an important passage for the area.
The old bridge in Amsterdam Red Light District.
The Amsterdam engineering startup, MX3D, announced the location for the bridge at the official opening of the construction site on the NDSM werf in the North of Amsterdam. The company started as a small design studio but has now created a whole company around the 3D printing bridge. The plan to build a 3D printed bridge was announced back in June 2014. The deputy mayor of Amsterdam revealed the location.
The design mockup of the 3D printed bridge. Picture by: Olivier de Gruijter.
The reason for building the bridge on the canal-side of the Red Light District is that the canals there are relatively narrow. The 3D printed bridge will span 8 metres over the water and will be four metres wide. Because this is a world first, it will also be a test of the technique on it’s suitability for further use. The aim of 3D steel printing is to use it for more complex conditions, such as high buildings. As a kick-off project it makes sense to start with a smaller bridge over a canal in the city centre.
The company originaly planned for the the bridge to be printed at the actual location. However, as it is quite busy in this area the 3D printed bridge will not be printed live on the spot. The ideal location turned out to be an abandoned industrial space at the NDSM werf located in the north of Amsterdam. The bridge will be printed in one piece in a former shipbuilding hangar before being transported to the city centre. The robotic printers can print a complex steel structure which is a composition of several shapes. The robots build up the structure by forming struts out of thousands of precisely placed little blobs of molten steel. The robotic printing arms move across the bridge span and slides along the bridge’s edges. The structure is printed as the robots move along.
This is where the 3d printed bridge will be placed. Just opposite of Casa Rosso.
The Dutch startup MX3D has been working on the 3D printed bridge for over three years now and it’s now officially finished! This means that the bridge was completed ahead of schedule before the beginning of 2019.
MX3D’s people have been testing the bridge these last few months to make sure that it withstands the expected traffic in the Red Light District. Before the bridge can actually be installed at the location the canal walls first have to be renovated by the City of Amsterdam. It is estimated that this process will take an additional 1 to 1,5 years. We’ll have to wait a little longer before we can cross the world’s first printed bridge in the Red Light District!
During our Red Light District tours we’ll walk across this bridge whilst telling you everything you need to know about this oldest part of Amsterdam. Book our tour, get to see this 3D printed steel bridge and learn what the Red Light District is really all about!