Structural health of world’s first 3D printed steel bridge monitored by sensors and ‘digital twin’ technologies
The world’s first 3D printed steel bridge has been installed and unveiled in Amsterdam—with the potential to revolutionize how urban infrastructure is designed, built and maintained. Project lead Professor Mark Girolami led the structural integrity testing, as well as the design and installation of the bridge’s sensor network. The team from the Department of Engineering and The Alan Turing Institute are currently working on developing and deploying a ‘digital twin’ of the bridge.
The futuristic multi award-winning bridge, designed by Joris Laarman Lab, with Arup as lead engineer, has been placed over one of the oldest canals in Amsterdam’s city center, the Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal. The bridge was officially opened on July 15 by Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands.
Printed by Dutch technology MX3D using robotic arms, the 12 meter-long bridge is also equipped with an innovative sensor network, linked to a mathematical computer model forming a ‘digital twin’ of the physical bridge and its digital representation. The ‘digital twin’ monitors the bridge performance in real-time. The ‘smart’ bridge, in effect, serves as a living laboratory, with pedestrians, cyclists and runners generating data every time they cross the bridge. This data will help to monitor the bridge’s structure and provide information about how it is being used.