Michiel makes it in Tilburg

Conquering the world with a 3D printer

About seven years ago Michiel van der Kley became intrigued by the 3D printer. As an early adopter he bought a printer and after a year of experimenting he came up with the idea of Project EGG: a large egg, in which you can stand, consisting of 4760 3D printed stones. A special piece of community art that connects the whole world. But that's not all for the innovative Michiel. This year he brings his next pride, the largest 3D printed bicycle bridge in the world.

Working as a cook in the kitchen

Michiel van der Kley started his career as a furniture designer. After years of working for leading brands, he began to find the work less challenging: "I wanted to work more like a cook in the kitchen. And then there was the 3D printer. The computer as a tool, coupled with a device that makes all your ideas come true. I thought it was a wonderful combination."

A new and unexplored territory

"I find it interesting to investigate to what extent you can change the world with a printer. In which ways you can work together. It was a huge search to get the most out of the 3D printer. Very nice and exciting to enter this new, unexplored territory. I worked with a Structural Engineer from New York for the correct calculations, not my strongest point. I also had a lot of contact with other early adopters", says Michiel vividly. In order to realize Project EGG, Michiel had several people walking around in his workplace for a year. "I made a design in which each stone was different in shape, colour and size. I forwarded this digital file to others who wanted to print a stone themselves and thus contributed to the project. This created a community. Some people were so enthusiastic that they even came from Norway or Barcelona to Tilburg to hand over their own printed stone and see the whole thing."

No bridge to far

After the success of Project EGG, Michiel will present another world first this year. A concrete bridge, completely printed by a 3D printer. The idea for the bridge came after Michiel came into contact with the administrator of the province of Gelderland and Rijkswaterstaat. I was in Arnhem experimenting with 3D concrete printing and there they came to take a look. On the wall was a design of a concrete bicycle tunnel, made with a 3D printer. The Director-General of Rijkswaterstaat challenged me: that tunnel should be in place by 2020."

In the end, it was not a tunnel, but a bicycle bridge. In 2018, Nijmegen was the Green Capital of Europe and wanted a lasting reminder, just as Paris was left with the Eiffel Tower at the World Fair. I want to design new things, I have a fascination with shapes, that's my challenge."

At home in Tilburg

With contacts all over the world and worldwide familiarity with Project Egg, working abroad wouldn't be a bad choice. Yet he continued to work from his studio in the centre of Tilburg. In Tilburg he likes to go to the pub and regularly visits Paradox: "The big stars of jazz can be found here. They inspire me, among other things, to be able to do my thing in great anonymity. In Tilburg I can go about my business undisturbed. The space I have here is fantastic. Tilburg is cheap, undiscovered. In addition, the city has changed a great deal in recent years, and is in full development. And I am surrounded by nature. I enjoy cycling and get inspiration from nature. The shapes that nature creates form an important basis for my designs."