Over the years the work we do in the Lab has become more and more influenced by technology. We are always trying to push the limits of our profession by developing new technology. Our metal printers originated from the desire to be able to print 3D objects that are larger than the box of a 3D printer. We wanted to print large-scale objects that could be used effectively. After our first experiments and the Dragon series, we were so excited about its potential that we just had to further develop this technology. And it was clear that it would only be able to grow properly if it could stand on its own as an independent company. This led to MX3D, now situated in the historical NDSM ship wharf. MX3D feels like the discovery of a new continent. A world of new opportunities is in front of us but we can only just see its contours. I can’t wait to start exploring and very much look forward to this journey.
We were at the airport in San Francisco, on our way to our first main sponsor Autodesk for a presentation about MX3D, and were brainstorming about what the ultimate poster project would be for showcasing all of the facets of our technology. We came to the conclusion that a bridge over one of the old canals in Amsterdam would be a fantastic metaphor for connecting the technology of the future with the city’s past, in a way that would reveal the best aspects of both worlds. We have the same physics as everyone else, but it looks like it’s gravity-defying. Drop by drop at a time we deposite metal and it solidifies. Tubes and curved tube can be printed as well. Every geometry needs a different strategy and we are developing software that generates this.
The bridge design is, to a large extent, a process. It is something that is dependent on many factors, and algorithms will also be used in order to achieve a smart structure that takes the printing process into account, as well as functionality for the user and the environment in which it is placed. I think it is important that the design doesn’t become an alien blob, but that it has clear roots. It is easy to read how the most beautiful bridges in history were made, and in this design that is also certainly the intention. The beauty of parametric modeling and digital fabrication is that we can make custom structures that are unique for each location, and so we will.
(photocredits: Thijs Wolzak, JL, Adriaan de Groot)