We often follow Materialise, the 3D printing industry leader from Belgium, as they have come to the rescue in numerous serious situations—most especially medical applications—providing surgeons with new ways to offer diagnoses, treatments, and pursue new procedures, with 3D surgical guides helping to navigate the way. They’ve made a substantial difference not only in technological advancements with their wide range of offerings, but also in the lives of real people.
Recently, the Materialise team’s expertise made a big difference for the & designshop team, as they helped them with a complex project—the likes of which we’ve never seen—under a tight deadline. After all, who else would one turn to when attempting to make an intricate 3D print that might seem altogether impossible to pull off in a seven-month time frame? Although we weren’t aware that the Materialise team was made up of expert boat builders, they seem to have risen to the task of recreating a historical ship in 3D print almost effortlessly. And the results are truly nothing short of spectacular.
It all started when the & designshop team, founded by Dutch design and styling duo Elwin & Nynke of Rotterdam, received a client request for what turned out to be quite an undertaking. Asked if they could recreate the Seven Provinces, a 17th century warship anchored in the Rotterdam harbor, the team immediately began consulting with Materialise.
While some may have looked at a project of this scope and deadline and cried ‘abandon ship!’ the two teams worked together with confidence and organization. The & designshop team was responsible for the intricate design; Materialise was responsible for the rest. And all of this was to be done within seven months. While that might be impossible using traditional handcrafting, with 3D printing it became altogether possible—and the evidence is now displayed in a 1.5 meter (translating to about 4’11″) fully finished galleon—resplendent in all her glory as a stunning replica.
No stranger to commissioned craftsmen attempting to make replicas of it throughout the centuries, the Seven Provinces, built in the mid-1600s, was a hearty warship that saw plenty of action over a century’s time, generally carrying a crew of around 420 men. Over 150 feet long and 40 feet wide, the Dutch warship was armed with a formidable 80 guns. While making history of their own with this 3D printed replica, the two teams worked together steadily in preparing for printing.
“Our design and engineering team provided Elwin and Nynke with guidance in terms of the file’s printability, pointing out what aspects of the file needed to fixed, where the wall thickness needed to be adjusted, and what could be printed separately for later assembly,” states the Materialise team in their blog regarding the project.
Once the surface design file was created in Grid VFX in preparation for being sent to the SLA 3D printer, it was up to Materialise to refine the design using Materialise Magics software, which is an incredibly versatile platform we’ve seen in use for everything from high quality architectural models to the recreation of life-size cartoon characters for the entertainment industry.
With Magics being applied to a project like this, it’s obvious that the world of the hobbyist can be elevated to an entirely new level—still allowing for great challenge—but offering powerful new tools. And in the end, all of the benefits of 3D printing are shown off in terms of the customization options, greater affordability in materials, and overall production speed.
Not surprisingly, the peripheral parts and decorations for this project were broken into multiple parts—like detailed crow’s nests and cannons, lanterns and more—for printing and assembly and painting afterward. One can only imagine the challenges in bringing something like this to fruition with so many tiny pieces and delicate details. For sails and ropes, rails and anchors, and other similar small pieces, it was crucial to create enough wall thickness. Their design, complete with a tetrashell internal structure for added strength, consisted of 52 separate shells. The boat itself, though? That was printed in one piece on the Materialise Mammoth Stereolithography 3D printer, famous for its ability to print large prototypes and parts—and what an impressive process indeed.
“The body of the ship was printed out in white ProtoGen, a strong and light material that was perfect for the level of detail needed on the model,” states the Materialise team. “The smallest pieces, such as the sails and cannons, were laser sintered, and the ropes were handmade from nylon.”
The detail on the ship is amazing.
The sails being printed in separate pieces.
While the fact that they spent 40 hours in preparing the ship’s design just to get to the 3D printer might sound like an enormous amount of time, the truth is that in comparison to traditional model building, that was extremely fast (making this galleon by hand probably would have taken a year and a half). When the ship and its parts were printed and cleaned up, it was time to send them out for the final phases of cleanup, assembly and painting.
Wasili Angelopoulos, a talented model maker, made the masts, as well as engaging in hours of sanding and refining before everything was sent to a master painter for the external color—and then on to the final assembly to ready the Seven Provinces for permanent, private display in the city of London. See the video below which shows the Seven Provinces rising up from the SLA 3D printer as if reporting for duty, as well as resting in port and offering itself up to the highly detailed post-processing techniques of the team. And the end result? You’ll be shaking your head in utter disbelief at the level of quality and unbelievable detail. For more information, be sure to check out the Materialise Case Study on this project. Are you a hobbyist who enjoys making models and replicas?
[Source: Materialise/all images of the Seven Provinces copyrighted by Femke Poort]