23 Sep World’s Largest Machines Ever Built
Although feats of engineering and technology happen every day, there’s nothing more impressive than the largest machines in the world. Some of these titans of engineering have been built in recent years, and some have held their impressive records for twenty years. The sheer mass of these beastly machines are testaments to the ingenuity and inventiveness of humankind. Here are some of the world’s largest machines ever built, in no particular order.
Large Hadron Collider
The Large Hadron Collider is the largest machine ever built, which is a bit funny. The reason that this is funny is that the largest machine ever built in the world was constructed to study the smallest particles in the universe… subatomic particles. It is a particle collider that first fired up on September 10, 2008. However, its conception and construction happened in waves, with the LEP tunnel it sits in being completed in 1988, twenty years before.
The LHC took decades to plan and build, and the work of thousands of scientists, engineers, and technicians. New discoveries with the LHC happen all the time, as well as record-setting operations. The LHC is operated by CERN, or the European Organization for Nuclear Research. The CERN laboratory and the underground LEP tunnel is located near Geneva on the France- Switzerland border. The LHC is 27 kilometers (16.78 miles) in circumference and buried 75 meters under the ground.
Big Bertha is the worlds largest tunnel boring machine at a length of 300 feet and a height of five stories. Big Bertha weighs 7,000 tons and must be shipped between worksites, although she was built specifically to create the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement tunnel in Seattle. Hitachi Zosen Sakai Work in Osaka, Japan built the machine, and its assembly was completed in June 2013. Tunnel boring began on July 30, 2013, with a projected end-date in December 2015.
However, on December 6, 2013 progress was halted after the machine damaged several cutter blades on a steel pipe. The pipe was supposed to have been removed before the project began, but appeared to have been forgotten. The damage from the obstruction put Bertha out of commission until December 22, 2015, in a two-year delay. After a series of stops and starts, the tunnel was finally completed in 2017.
The Taisun Gantry Crane is one of the largest cranes in the world and holds a Guinness World Record for sheer lifting power. In fact, it holds three titles for the first, second and third heaviest lifts in the world. These are 20,133 metric tons, 17,100 metric tons, and 14,000 tons. It is used at the Yantai Raffles Shipyard in the Shandong Province in China.
The Taisun was built to install very heavy integrated modules on a vessels hull and often works on semi-submersibles in the drilling sector. It’s advancements made the construction of these vessels much more efficient and a shorter project time overall. Besides the Guinness World Record, it also earned the Spotlight on New Technology from the Offshore Technology Conference in 2008. At the same conference, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers awarded the Taisun the Woelfel Best Mechanical Engineering Achievement Award.
“Bagger 293” is the nickname of the largest vehicle in the world. Formally titled MAN/TAKRAF RB293, this German bucket wheel excavator was finished in 1995. It weighs over 31 million pounds and stands approximately 315 feet tall. It’s near twice that length at 738 feet long. The machine is so massive that it took three weeks for it to make the journey from the factory to its first mining site 80 miles away. However, this machine packs a punch. It can move over 8.5 million cubic feet in a day, or a hole the length of a football field and 80 feet deep.
The machine holds a giant bucket wheel at the end of a long arm that it uses to ferociously churn dirt up and transport down its conveyor belt for other smaller machines to remove.
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen also founded the company behind the largest aircraft in the world. The Stratolaunch aircraft is used for launching rockets into low orbit around Earth and is instrumental to Allen’s vision of making low-orbit space more accessible. The Stratolaunch is the worlds largest aircraft by wingspan and weighs 500,000 pounds. It is slightly wider than a professional NFL football field (360 ft) with its 385 ft length.
The craft stands about 50 feet tall and is approximately 238 feet long from nose to tail. It can carry a load of 550,000 pounds, which is over 50,000 pounds heavier than the aircraft itself.