Researchers are measuring, monitoring,and analysing the performance of the world’s largest 3D printed metal structure: a 12 metre-long stainless steel bridge. Data from a sensor network installed on the bridge is being inputted into a ‘digital twin’ of the bridge which acts as a living computer model that imitates the physical bridge with growing accuracy in real time as the data comes in.
Explaining the science
In partnership with MX3D, a 3D printing company, researchers on this project are measuring, monitoring, and analysing 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 sensor network has been installed on the bridge by a team of structural engineers, mathematicians, computer scientists, and statisticians from the Turing and the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction. The data from the sensors is being 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 MX3D bridge digital twin model developed by the Steel Structures research group in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Imperial College London||Design of the 3D printed steel bridge, by Joris Laarman Lab, which will be printed by robotic machinery|
The sensors 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 performance and behaviour of the physical bridge will 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. See the dedicated project page for this part of the work: ‘Statistical techniques for engineering with advanced materials‘.
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.
Read the Turing press release.