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Bam ‘prints’ Glasgow bridge staircase

Bam Nuttall has become the first contractor in Scotland to make use of 3D concrete printing – for the staircase that will provide access to the new Sighthill Bridge in Glasgow.

It is believed to be largest printed concreteconstruction in the UK to date, Bam says.

Sighthill Bridge, now nearing completion, is a pedestrian and cycle bridge over the M8, linking Glasgow City Centre and the Sighthill area.

Working on behalf of Glasgow City Council, Bam Nuttall craned in the new staircase this week. The steps will be clad in granite for a durable, slip-free finish.

Printing the bridge components allows for more complex geometry than traditional formworkwould normally allow, creating “a truly unique structure”, according to Bam.

Another claimed benefit is that the removal of moulds and materials reduces waste by 40% compared to traditional methods.

Bam insists that the staircase will be just as strong as if it had been poured on site, but doing it indoors removed concerns about any weather delays. Automated sensors embedded in the materials add further certainty to the quality of mortar throughout the process.

The steps were printed by Weber Bemix in its factory in the Netherlands before being shipped to Scotland. Bam previously worked with Weber Bemix in 2019 to make the world’s longest 3D concrete printed bridge in Nijmegen.

Ian Steele, Bam Nuttall’s contracts manager for the M8 footbridge, said: “It’s wonderful to see these 3D concrete printed aspects installed as this iconic bridge takes shape. The printed element saw us manufacture the stairwells offsite, creating strong, one-of-a-kind structures, all while reducing waste and interaction with weather and other elements which can create hold ups.

“Although this part of the landscaping will ultimately be hidden from site, it marks a huge step forward for Bam in how we modernise our approach to construction – reducing risk, improving efficiency, and driving down our carbon footprint.

“The use of this technology is in its infancy, but the aspiration is that interest and application grow to such a degree that we can invest in a UK based printing facility which would improve how we construct within the UK.”

The video below shows the 'printing' process (somewhat speeded up) in Weber Bemix's Nijmegen factory.

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