Royal Netherlands Navy embraces cutting edge tech to keep fleet afloat. 

According to Hollywood legend, the uniforms needed for filming the movie adaptation of The Mutiny on the Bounty came from a very unique source: the original source. The company that initially outfitted the Royal Navy was still in operation, and had the original designs for the uniforms that had been worn on the ill-fated voyage to Tahiti. That old file proved fairly useful when the producers went seeking attention to detail.

It appears as though the Royal Netherlands Navy is taking a high-tech lesson from the tailor shop. They’ve launched a bizarrely in-depth undertaking to 3D scan every ship in the fleet, down to the tiniest detail. The project will provide them with stored files that can be used to replace, repair, or even replicate a ship at a fraction of the labor and cost it currently takes.

Preserving Dutch Naval Ships Through 3D Images

Naval maintenance contractor, Marinebedrijf Koninklijke Marine, is producing parts with 3D printers


Clever tech

How did they do it? According to an article on the project by Naval Technology, “The Artec Eva and Spider 3D handheld scanners used for this project are structured light scanners. The scanners work by projecting light in a grid pattern onto an object, which allows them to capture the deformation or distortion from multiple angles and then calculate the distance to specific points on the object using triangulation. These coordinates are used to produce a three-dimensional digital model. Without 3D scanning, this reverse engineering process would involve a long series of tedious measurements for Marinebedrijf Koninklijke Marine.”

Embracing the future

There are a lot of differences between 3D printing yourself a replica of Star Trek communicator badge for your key chain and trying to build ship’s parts, namely that the process involves metal printing. That technology is not quite caught up to plastic and is almost prohibitively expensive for most uses, but the Navy’s project with Artec 3D is already scanning the ships’ parts for the evolution of cheaper metal printing.

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