Three Dutch Companies Collaborate on 3D-Printed Bridge Project

Rendering of what the 3D printed bridge could look like. Image courtesy of DSM.

Civil engineering firm Royal HaskoningDHV (Amersfoort, The Netherlands), materials science company Royal DSM (DSM) (Heerlen, The Netherlands), and 3D-printing manufacturer CEAD (Delft, The Netherlands) recently teamed up to design a 3D-printed fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) pedestrian bridge. 

This first-of-its-kind bridge prototype was initiated by Royal HaskoningDHV, who sought the services of its partners in creating a FRP-based design that incorporated 3D-printing elements. While Royal HaskoningDHV designed the bridge, the materials consist of glass-filled thermoplastic polyethylene terephthalate (PET) produced by DSM, along with continuous glass fibers added during the 3D-printing process helmed by CEAD. CEAD’s CFAM Prime printer can create parts as large as 13 ft. by 6.5 ft. by 5 ft.

“In collaboration with these industry leaders, we are transforming the traditional playbook when it comes to bridge design and construction,” says Maurice Kardas, business development manager at Royal HaskoningDHV. 

“FRP bridges are already well known for having a longer lifetime expectancy with lower life cycle costs compared to steel bridges,” adds Kardas. “What’s new here is the use of a 3D printing technology, enabling us to print large scale continuous fiber-reinforced thermoplastic parts. Using this new composite thermoplastic material, we will be ushering in a new era for sustainability and push the boundaries of bridge functionality even further.”

The unique fiber-and-plastic composite material allows for lightweight, high-strength designs using sustainable materials. The bridge design also includes sensors that enable Royal HaskoningDHV to create a digital twin of the structure. “These sensors can predict and optimize maintenance, ensure safety, and extend the life span of our bridges,” says Kardas. “It can also incorporate new functionalities such as monitoring vital environmental aspects and improve the decision-making process for maintenance and inspection via dynamic real-time reports on the condition of the bridge.” 

The three Netherlands-based companies believe that the 3D-printed bridge will lead to more efficient, sustainable designs that can be utilized across a wide range of potential infrastructure projects. As opposed to traditional 3D-printed building materials, the designers believe that their composite material are better suited to withstand various weather conditions. With that said, this material may be prone to a common problem facing 3D-printed elements: the plastic may become brittle when used in larger structures.  

“This 3D printed bridge prototype demonstrates the huge strides that we are making which will transform the future of this industry, not only speeding up construction, but also making the process more cost and time efficient,” says CEAD CEO Maarten Logtenberg. “We developed this technology for exactly these industry applications, making them more sustainable and easier to manufacture.”

Source: Royal HaskoningDHV,