Sep 29, 2017 | By Julia

The Dutch Navy has embarked on a new mission of the virtual variety: 3D scanning its entire fleet. The ambitious undertaking has arisen at the behest of Marinebedrijf Koninklijke Marine, the Dutch contractor in charge of maintaining the Royal Netherlands Navy vessels.

That maintenance includes everything from replacing damaged hull parts to executing necessary modifications for weapons systems and engines. For the staff of Marinebedrijf Koninklijke Marine, such heavy-duty maintenance is all in a day’s work, but difficulties can arise when dealing with ancient vessels for which no drawings or CAD files exist. 

In the past, maintenance personnel would be faced with painstakingly designing these out-of-use parts through traditional imaging and tooling techniques. It’s an exhaustive process that can take days, sometimes weeks.

Looking to speed up their work, the Marinebedrijf Koninklijke Marine recently turned to Artec 3D, a Luxembourg-based company that produces 3D scanners specifically designed for digitizing objects with tricky geometry and complex textures. For this project, Artec’s structured light scanners “Eva” and “Space Spider” were deemed the best fit. 

These specialized handheld scanners function by projecting light in a grid pattern onto a real-world object, allowing the scanners to capture the distortion from multiple angles, then calculate the distance between specific points on the object via triangulation. Using these coordinates, a 3D digital model can then be rendered.

According to Marinebedrijf Koninklijke Marine staff, Artec’s scanners have been a godsend. “Using 3D scanning has saved us up to weeks of work—older processes were very intensive requiring multiple types of measuring tools and then replicating the drawing into a CAD programme,” says Ben Jansen, CNC coordinator at Marinebedrijf Koninklijke Marine.

“Now, even when there is no 3D data or drawings of a part, we’re able to use an Artec 3D scanner to create a 3D image of the object, and the scan is used to reverse engineer the object. That part is then replicated using 3D printing techniques, 3-5 axis milling, or 3D welding.”

In most cases, Jansen explains, ship parts are reverse engineered or newly created. “This is especially the case in older navy vessels where the suppliers of the components no longer exist.”

The Artec Eva has a capture speed of 16 frames per second, and is geared towards scanning medium-sized objects. It can simultaneously capture and process up to two million points per second with 0.1mm accuracy. The Artec Space Spider, on the other hand, is better suited to scanning smaller objects with intricate details. It can process up to one million points per second, and renders extremely high-resolution images up to 0.1mm.

Between the two devices, the Dutch Navy’s entire fleet can be accurately scanned in a fraction of the time it would take traditional methods.

As for Artec, the Luxembourg 3D scanning company is confident that its product line has the potential to revolutionize military maintenance. “If you need to add anything to a military ship or plane—such as new seating or cupboards—the fastest and most accurate way to get the measurements would be to scan the areas,” says Andrei Vakulenko, chief business development officer at Artec 3D.

“Quality control and inspection is another popular area, as parts such as propellers can be 3D scanned and checked regularly for quality assurance.” 3D scanning can also play an important role in technical support, building new equipment, quality control, and crash testing, Vakulenko says.

With the Royal Netherlands Navy project under its belt, Artec is now looking ahead to a bright future. Ideally, that will include 3D scanning and 3D printing for military support on the move.

“When 3D printing takes off fully we expect that all large ships will have 3D scanners and 3D printers on board so that parts can be 3D scanned and then 3D printed on the spot,” Vakulenko says. “At the moment, quite a few small parts can be 3D printed in durable plastic and used with great success, but the real breakthrough will come when 3D printers can achieve the same level of quality in metal.”



Posted in 3D Scanning



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