World’s First 3D-Printed Cycling Bridge Opens

Category: Technology/Innovations


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. serviceable / ˈsɜr və sə bəl / (adj) – capable of being used

    The taxi is no longer serviceable.

  2. fortify / ˈfɔr təˌfaɪ / (v) – to add something to an object to make it stronger

    They fortified the brick wall with concrete.

  3. cumbersome / ˈkʌm bər səm / (adj) – difficult to manage

    The carpenters should not use cumbersome tools at work.

  4. versatile / ˈvɜr sə tl / (adj) – can be used for different purposes

    3D printers are so versatile because it can create almost anything.

  5. pedestrian / pəˈdɛs tri ən / (n) – someone who is walking along a street, road, in a city, etc.

    Cars are not allowed to pass because the bridge is for pedestrians only.


Read the text below.

The world’s first 3D-printed cycling bridge has opened in the Netherlands in October.

The bridge spans a ditch separating two roads in the town of Gemert [KHEY-muhrt]. It measures 8 meters long and 3.5 meters wide. It can carry up to two tonnes, which is equivalent to the weight of 40 trucks. It will remain serviceable to cyclists for 30 years.

Engineers from the construction company BAM Infra and the Eindhoven / ˈaɪntˌhoʊ vən / University of Technology began working on the bridge at the university campus back in June. The team used 3D printing to create 800 layers of concrete, which were then fortified with steel cables. After assembling the bridge, the team positioned it in its current location in Gemert.

The team that built the bridge emphasized the benefits of building structures through 3D printing. According to the bridge engineers, 3D printing benefits the environment because it requires less concrete than the conventional method. Thus, there is less carbon dioxide and waste materials released during production. In addition, 3D printing also makes construction more flexible. Conventional construction methods usually yield cumbersome shapes, but 3D printers are versatile and can form a wider range of shapes.

This is not the first time that 3D printing was used in construction. Other organizations have previously built 3D-printed structures around the world. In 2016, the Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catalonia built and installed the first 3D-printed bridge for pedestrians in Madrid, Spain. In the same year, architecture firm Gensler designed a 3D-printed office in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, while Apis Cor built a 3D-printed house in Russia.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• What 3D-printed structure would you like to be made? Why?
• If 3D-printing became more common, how do you think it would affect society? Discuss.

Discussion B

• If you were to design structures, would you focus on practicality or artistry? Why?
• Aside from practicality and artistry, what other factors would you consider in designing a structure? Why?