This bridge was produced using 3D concrete printing technology by Ghent University in collaboration with Vertico. The design and production of a topology-optimized prestressed concrete bridge is presented. Topology optimization (TO) is a mathematical method that optimizes material layout within a given design space, for a given set of loads, boundary conditions and constraints with the goal of maximizing the performance of the system.
TO is different from shape optimization and sizing optimization in the sense that the design can attain any shape within the design space, instead of dealing with predefined configurations.Topology Optimization has a wide range of applications in aerospace, mechanical, bio-chemical and civil engineering. Currently, engineers mostly use TO at the concept level of a design process. Due to the free forms that naturally occur, the result is often difficult to manufacture.
For that reason the result emerging from TO is often fine-tuned for manufacturability. There are several commercial topology optimization software on the market. Most of them use topology optimization as a hint how the optimal design should look like, and manual geometry re-construction is required. There are a few solutions which produce optimal designs ready for Additive Manufacturing. The design was inspired by a topology optimization study performed by Technion, Israel Institute of Technology.
While this is not the first ever 3D concrete printed bridge, it presents the first example on how topological design in combination with 3D concrete printing allows to create more efficient structures with less use of materials.