The people of the Netherlands are known for many things. Famously tolerant, the Dutch love a good windmill, cheese, coffee shops and attractive football. But one trait of the Dutch should be celebrated more. When it comes to creativity, the Dutch stand tall (well they do anyway, Dutch men are the tallest on earth). From little Peter who used his finger to plug a dam, the creativity of Van Gogh, through the midfield mastermind of Cruyff to today’s environmental innovations, the Dutch have a fine tradition of creativity.
As the world starts to embrace the opportunities that 3D Design and Build brings, the Dutch are already using 3D printing in public constructions. In October 2017, Dutch officials opened the world’s first 3D-printed concrete bridge in the south eastern town of Gemert.
The eight-metre bridge spans a water-filled ditch to connect two roads, has some 800 layers of concrete and can carry loads of up to two tonnes, took around three months to build.
The Netherlands, along with China and the US, are at the forefront of the cutting-edge technology in 3D printing, using robotics and computers to construct structures and objects from scratch.
Just last week saw the unveiling of the world’s first functional stainless steel bridge. The 41-foot-long bridge was built for pedestrians in Amsterdam’s infamous red light district. Four robots using 9,920 pounds of stainless steel, and taking six months to complete will undergo several load tests before it’s Amsterdam installation in 2019.
Advancements in technology have seen 3D printing become featured more as viable options to conventional building methods.
New Story, a Silicon Valley-based non-profit organisation have spent the past few years rethinking how to build safe and affordable housing for those in extreme poverty. Working with Icon, a tech construction firm, New Story created a 3D printer, called the Vulcan which can build a house for around $4,000 in just one day.
Dutch creativity in 3D printing also throws up some interesting story’s. It isn’t concrete and steel bridges that the Dutch are printing. When the Dutch High Tech Crime Unit raided one of the world’s biggest dark web drug marketplaces, Hansa, they also uncovered an operation that was allegedly involved in the 3D printing of ink cartridges, Nintendo game cases and fake make-up compacts in which the suspects, it was claim, stashed narcotics to be sent around the world.
Whatever the use, 3D printing offers a sustainable and alternative to existing constructions methods and it’s worth keeping an eye on the Dutch to see what the future of 3D printing looks like, today.