MX3D Takenaka Connector

Amsterdam based startup MX3D and Japanese construction company Takenaka Corporation present their 3D printed Structural Steel Connector

Large-scale metal printing company MX3D has produced a Structural Steel Connector, designed in collaboration with the engineers of Takenaka, one of the largest architecture, engineering, and construction firms in Japan. This project shows the progress in the production of highly customized and engineered steel connectors using robotic 3D metal printing, i.e. Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM).

After its famous Bridge project, this is MX3D’s second work focussed on the application of large-scale 3D metal printing for civil engineering. The Structural Steel Connector is designed by MX3D and Takenaka engineers with the help of a topology optimization program that uses the mechanical properties of the printed material and the design constraints to generate guidelines on the most efficient shape. The Connector has a hollow structure which is filled with concrete, poured post-print by Takenaka engineers. Filling concrete or mortar into steel tubes is commonly conducted in civil engineering and is called CFST (Concrete-Filled Steel Tube). This structures in which concrete is combined with steel are very effective and economical. The inner concrete core delays or prevents local buckling of steel, and the outer steel bears bending and tensile forces.

The Structural Steel Connector’s net weight is 40Kg, reaching up to 45Kg after its hollow core was filled with approximately 2.5 litres of mortar. MX3D has 3D printed this connector using Duplex stainless steel, an alloy renowned for its good mechanical properties and excellent corrosion resistance, ideal for structural design.

Photo courtesy of MX3D/Leonard Faustle
Photo courtesy of MX3D/Leonard Faustle

Following the success of this initial concept, the partners involved now intend to implement the next bigger version(s) in an actual building project.

The goal of this project is to automate both the design and production of complex connectors for large structures in the building industry. As the complexity of structures increases and skilled labour in countries with aging populations is less available such innovation is much required in the building industry.

Closing the digital design loop is another key focus point for the construction industry. The method used to produce this connector allows for full digital control over the design, production, timeline and cost with great logistic benefits and excellent integration with BIM applications.

The Structural Steel Connector is printed using an advanced version of the MX3D proprietary technology. MX3D recently launched its MetalXL software, a basic version of this technology that allows users to quickly start 3D printing large-scale metal objects in their own facilities. The Beta 1.0 is currently being tested by selected users. Beta 2.0 is available for pre-orders and expected in Q1 2020. For more information visit

Photo courtesy of MX3D
Photo courtesy of MX3D

“We’re getting much interest from construction companies after our moonshot project on the MX3D Bridge. Together with Takenaka we’ve build this connector to show how the wire arc additive manufacturing (WAAM) technology is ready for industrialization to create unique connectors for complex constructions. This collaboration truly shows that architectural creativity doesn’t have to be limited by manufacturing constraints by further closing the digital design loop.” Filippo Gilardi – Lead R&D Engineering at MX3D

“This innovative manufacturing technology seamlessly connects bits and atoms, dramatically shortens lead times, pushes the boundaries of design, and finally contributes to the creation of more splendid architectural spaces. That is why Takenaka collaborated with MX3D.“ Takuya Kinoshita – Project Leader at Takenaka

Project Team
Project Development:
Filippo Gilardi; MX3D
Takuya Kinoshita; Takenaka

MX3D Engineering team:
Thomas Van Glabeke; Process engineering
Michael Jasinski; Engineering intern
Eddy Bernou; Engineering intern
Production Team: Richard van Dam, Jean-Francois Moulin, Cas Nieuwland;

Takenaka Engineering team:
Ryo Watada; Design and Engineering
Fumiaki Ohsuga; Structural Engineering
Yasuhiko Inoue; Material Engineering
Production Team: Yusuke Tanabe, Daisuke Honma, Takaaki Kurihara

TAKENAKA Corporation
With yearly sales of $10 billion, 20 overseas offices and over 1,000 architects in its design department, Takenaka Corporation offers comprehensive services worldwide across the entire spectrum of space creation from site location and planning to design and construction as well as post-completion services such as building maintenance.

Takenaka aims to create works that will be the “best” not only in the current era but also in the next era, and beyond.

Our mission is to provide customers with a better space through both building design and construction.

MX3D // Robotic 3D Metal Printing
The Dutch company MX3D develops robotic 3D metal print technology. The company is expanding rapidly. Their proprietary software turns an off-the-shelf robotic arm and a welding machine into an industrial manufacturing machine. In collaboration with Autodesk, TU Delft, ArcelorMittal, ABB, Lenovo, Arup, Airliquide MX3D has become a technology provider for several industrial parties that are entering the market for large-scale metal printing.

Creative projects are used to develop critical knowhow by doing. The bronze Butterfly Screen by Joris Laarman led to the ability to print a Marine Shipping Propeller. Other R&D enabled the company to 3D print a fully functional piece of infrastructure: the 3D printed Bridge for the city center of Amsterdam. The Aluminum Bicycle is the prelude of a much bigger project, for which the company will send out a press release soon.

Parallel to this, MX3D is working with artists, architects and several industrials to introduce Robotic Wire and Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) into their workflow. Large-scale industrial prototypes are currently being produced in the MX3D workshop. For more information, see

MX3D Prizes
MX3D was awarded several prestigious prizes. The MX3D Bridge Project received the 2018 STARTS Prize from the European Commission for the best Arts and Technology project, chosen out of 2,300+ project worldwide. The project also received the Dutch Design Award & the 3D Printing Challenge award.

In June 2019 MX3D was selected as a Top20 Most Innovative Company by the Dutch Chamber of Commerce. 

In July 2019 MX3D was selected as one of Europe’s Hottest Robotic Startups by the Jury of RobotUnion (the EU Robotic startup accelerator program). 

For more, see

Source: MX3D

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