DSM, Royal HaskoningDHV and CEAD design first lightweight 3D-printed bridge protoype using FRP

The world’s first 3D-printed FRP pedestrian bridge prototype uses glass-filled thermoplastic PET (Arnite),

Netherlands-based Royal HaskoningDHV, CEAD and DSM have announced that they’ve partnered to design the world’s first lightweight, 3D-printed FRP pedestrian bridge prototype using a composite material that consists of a glass-filled thermoplastic PET (Arnite), and is combined with continuous glass fibres that are added in the 3D-printing process. This unique combination offers high strength with extreme versatility and sustainability. Together, the three companies are leading a revolution in bridge construction and design. To build a 3D-printed bridge, Royal HaskoningDHV (an international engineering and project management consultancy) partnered with DSM (a global science-based company in nutrition, health and sustainable living, and a pioneer in 3D printing materials) and CEAD (a leading supplier of 3D printing equipment on the frontier of large-scale composite additive manufacturing).

Maurice Kardas.

“This partnership is bringing about a paradigm shift in the way we think about the form and function of bridges in our society,” said 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. What’s new here is the use of a new 3D printing technology, enabling us to print large scale continuous fibre reinforced thermoplastic parts. Using this new composite thermoplastic material, we’ll be ushering in a new era for sustainability and push the boundaries of bridge functionality even further. By including sensors in the design, we were able to build a digital twin of the bridge. These sensors can predict and optimize maintenance, ensure safety and extend the lifespan of our bridges. 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. In collaboration with these industry leaders, we are transforming the traditional playbook when it comes to bridge design and construction,” he added.

The combination of the companies’ generative design and predictive modelling expertise broadens design freedom. It also allows for a more efficient bridge design as it uses only the precise amount of materials required, thus helping to deliver an optimized printing process which results in improved mechanical performance. “Using a material such as Arnite has huge benefits for the construction of bridges. Rather than using traditional materials such as steel or concrete, these bridges can be much more sustainable and offer greater flexibility in design using recyclable materials,” said Patrick Duis, Segment Leader Additive Manufacturing at DSM. “We know that designs previously deemed challenging or impossible to produce with other manufacturing methods, are now possible with 3D printing, and we’re excited to be playing our part in this partnership.”

Maarten Logtenberg.

Maarten Logtenberg, CEO of CEAD added: “3D printing has evolved dramatically over the years. 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. We developed this technology for exactly these industry applications, making them more sustainable and easier to manufacture.” The project provides a great example of how leading companies in the Netherlands are partnering to be at the forefront in the transition towards circularity – one that’s innovative and competitive in transforming bridge construction for the future. Royal HaskoningDHV’s role takes the form of bridge designer, while CEAD developed the largest composite 3D printer, and DSM provided the innovative composite material. DSM and CEAD are also working together on predictive modelling to optimize materials and printing processes.

Royal DSM is a global science-based leader in nutrition, health and sustainable living. Its associated companies deliver annual net sales of about 10 billion Euros and have approximately 23,000 employees. The company was founded in 1902. Royal HaskoningDHV is an independent international engineering and project-management consultancy with more than 137 years of experience. Backed by the expertise and experience of 6,000 colleagues all over the world, its professionals combine global expertise with local knowledge to deliver a multi-disciplinary range of consultancy services for entire living environments in over 140 countries. CEAD is a technology supplier of 3D printing equipment, and is a major global player on the frontier of large-scale additive manufacturing. In 2017, CEAD started the development of Continuous Fibre Additive Manufacturing (CFAM). This patened technology is unique, and allows 3D printing at high speeds with granules and pre-impregnated fibres.



Tony Curcio is the editor of Graphic Arts Magazine.