In the Chinese city of Nanjing, a well-traveled bridge was deemed unsafe – namely, its railings weren’t stable enough. According to Li Jin, Chairman of Nanjing Jiayi Precision Machinery Manufacturing Co., Ltd, replacing the railings using traditional means would have taken at least a month. If you’ve had to deal with bridge construction on any of your usual routes, you’re well aware of what a headache it can be – and how it can seem to drag on forever, disrupting traffic for months at a time. Luckily, the residents of Nanjing didn’t have to deal with that kind of inconvenience, as Nanjing Jiayi Precision Machinery Manufacturing used 3D printing technology to construct the railings in about two weeks’ time.
Using 3D printing for the railings was much cheaper than other technologies, as well. The 3D printed railings are attractive, strong and safe, actually outperforming traditional concrete bridge railings in strength testing by two to three times. They were able to withstand force of up to 60 MPa, which is especially encouraging as other 3D printed bridge railings have ended up being somewhat on the fragile side.
Nanjing Jiayi Precision Machinery Manufacturing also uses 3D printing to produce furniture and even housing. The company uses a combination of raw materials to produce the strong, stable railings and other structures, in another example of 3D printing’s capacity for super strength. Another Chinese company, HuaShang Tengda, last year 3D printed a house that was deemed to be capable of withstanding earthquakes of up to eight on the Richter scale. 3D printed construction has often elicited concerns about strength and safety, but these two companies and others have shown that when done right, with the right materials, the technology can greatly outperform traditional manufacturing methods in terms of robustness.
We’ve been hearing a lot about China’s 3D printing industry lately. After several years in which the country lagged behind others in the adoption of 3D printing, it has recently surged ahead with determination. 3D printed construction is an area in which the country has taken a particular interest, with multiple institutions offering their own examples of 3D printed houses and other buildings. According to Liu Zijie, Dean of Nanjing Xinghua Architectural Design and Research Institute, China is only just getting started with 3D printed construction, and the country plans to use the technology more in the future to meet goals for green and unmanned construction.
In the near future, 3D printing will be used in the upcoming South Metro project, and it’s likely we’ll be hearing more about Nanjing Jiayi Precision Machinery Manufacturing and its patented technology before long. We’ve seen 3D printed bridges taking shape in cities such as Madrid and Amsterdam, and even a pair of bridges 3D printed with plastic in China, but the recent project in Nanjing shows that 3D printing can also be used to repair existing structures with minimal disruption to everyday life.
We have yet to see a large-scale 3D printed bridge capable of supporting the kind of automotive traffic seen on highways, but if companies continue to unveil 3D printing methods that can produce such strong structures, it may not be long before we do – and those long-term bridge repair projects we have to deal with every spring and summer may become a thing of the past. Discuss in the 3D Printed Railings forum at 3DPB.com.3D Printing World]