The world’s largest bridge was built this year in Shanghai.  Designed by Professor Xu Weiguo, who teaches at the Tsinghua University Zoina Land Joint Research Center for Digital Architecture after the ancient Anji Bridge in Zhaoxian, China.

The bridge is a single arch pedestrian bridge 86 feet long and 12 feet wide.  Professor Weiguo’s team combined digital design, cost efficiency, smart technology, and architectural dynamism.  The handrails are shaped like flowing ribbons.

The way the bridge is constructed is from 44 hollow concrete units, and the handrails are divided into 68 units.  The entire structure is composed of composite materials, including polyethylene fibers to match with the structural performance of the original materials.

The design process involved a smaller scale model to ensure that the bridge would be able to hold if the entire bridge was filled with people.  The actual bridge was constructed with two robotic arms, taking 450 hours to complete. It is projected that the whole process saved 33%, eliminating the need for reinforcing bars and templates.

A real-time monitoring system is implanted inside the bridge to report data on vibrating wire stresses and strains.  This is to help report on the practical performance of the 3D printed materials.

3D printing is making huge strides with building materials like concrete and even a timber look alike.  A 3D printed steel bridge has even been unveiled during Dutch Design Week.