First 3D-printed concrete arch bridge ready

Striatus, the 16 x 12 meter (approximately 52 x 39 feet) bridge, is the first of its kind to combine traditional master builder techniques with advanced computer design, engineering, and robotic manufacturing technologies. Photo courtesy Naaro

Zaha Hadid Architects and the Block Research Group at ETH Zurich have completed Striatus, the world’s first 3D-printed concrete arch bridge, in Venice, Italy.

Striatus is an arched masonry bridge made from 3D printed concrete blocks that are assembled without mortar or rebar. The 16 x 12 meter (approximately 52 x 39 feet) bridge is the first of its kind to combine traditional master builder techniques with advanced computer design, engineering, and robotic manufacturing technologies.

Striatus follows a masonry logic on two levels. Globally, the bridge behaves like a series of crooked, unreinforced Voussoir arches, with a discretization orthogonal to the prevailing flow of forces in compression, which follows the same structural principles as the Roman stone arched bridges.

Locally, on the level of the Voussoir, the 3D-printed concrete layers behave like traditional brickwork like the inclined rows of bricks in the Nubian or Mexican vaults.

In contrast to typical extrusion 3D printing in simple horizontal layers, Striatus uses a two-component concrete paint (2K) with a corresponding print head and pump arrangement to precisely print uneven and non-parallel layers.

This new generation of 3D concrete printing in combination with the arched masonry construction enables the resulting components to be used constructively without reinforcement or prestressing. Holcim, a global building materials company based in Switzerland, has developed a special, tailor-made 3D printing ink for Striatus.

By integrating design, engineering, manufacturing and construction, Striatus redefines conventional interdisciplinary relationships. The precise production of the blocks was made possible by a well-defined data exchange between the various domain-specific software toolchains involved in the process.

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