A research team from The Alan Turing Institute are partnering with MX3D, a 3D printing company, to measure, monitor and analyse the performance of the world’s largest 3D printed metal structure: a 12 metre-long stainless steel bridge due to be installed across a canal in Amsterdam in 2018.
A vast sensor network will be designed and installed on the bridge by a team of structural engineers, mathematicians, computer scientists and statisticians working in The Alan Turing Institute-Lloyd’s Register Foundation programme in data-centric engineering and the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction. The sensors will collect data on structural measurements such as strain, displacement and vibration and measure environmental factors such as air quality and temperature, enabling engineers to measure the bridge’s health in real time and monitor how it changes over its lifespan.
The data from the sensors will be inputted into a ‘digital twin’ of the bridge, a living computer model which will imitate the physical bridge with growing accuracy in real time as the data comes in. The performance and behaviour of the physical bridge can be tested against its digital twin, which will provide valuable insights to inform designs for future 3D printed metallic structures. It will also enable the current 3D bridge to be modified to suit any required changes in use, ensuring it is safe and secure for pedestrians.
Engineers involved in the project from Imperial College London are also working with MX3D to test the novel material properties of the 3D printed steel and perform finite element modelling of the whole structure.This is to help anticipate the impact of pedestrian or cycling traffic over the bridge and inform its design.
The bridge will be installed across the Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal in Amsterdam in late 2018, and data will be captured by the team over the length of the project.
3D-printed bridge in Amsterdam to cross new territory from Neil Bowdler on Vimeo – courtesy of thetimes.co.uk
Read the Turing press release.