Of all the disastrous events in US history, perhaps none fascinate people the way the Titanic does. The 1997 multiple-record-breaking movie certainly had something to do with the national obsession; as a middle-schooler, I saw it in the theater at least three times, sobbing dutifully each time before going off to Steak ‘n Shake. The combination of romance and tragedy drew people in like a magnet, but Kate and Leo didn’t start the Titanic frenzy. The first films about the disaster were made almost immediately, proving that Hollywood’s rather morbid tendency to capitalize on ripped-from-the-headlines tragedies is nothing new.
Since the sinking of the ship and resulting deaths of over 1,500 people, there have been hundreds of movies, television episodes, songs, poems, and books inspired by the Titanic, and memorabilia related to the ship has raked in millions of dollars. There have also been countless models of the so-called “unsinkable” ship built, with one of the most recent – and coolest – created by model designer Bernard Dohnt.
Last year, Dohnt caught our attention with his 3D printed RC replica of an Armidale-class patrol boat (the files for which are now available for download). At the time, he had several other projects in the works, and his most ambitious, an RC Titanic, is now almost complete. The ship, printed at a scale of 1:72, is nearly four meters (13 feet) long and currently consists of over 150 3D printed pieces. Once the model is completed and fully detailed, Dohnt estimates that the final part count will be over 2,000.
Dohnt meticulously designed the model using the actual blueprints from the Titanic, so the dimensions and shape are perfectly accurate, he tells us. If the size and detail of the remote-controlled model weren’t impressive enough, Dohnt also plans to sink the ship.
“This model doesn’t just float and move with radio control, it has a very intricately designed hidden function that has posed many obstacles for me to overcome,” he tells 3DPrint.com. “She accurately sinks, and splits, with the intention to showcase her on the Titanic’s anniversary next year. To achieve this, the model has been built in two independently floating sections, with the forward section mainly comprising of ballast tanks and pumping systems. The two sections will be permanently joined at the keel by hinges, and pulled together/apart by a remote controlled winch.”
April 15, 2017 will mark the 105th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, and considering that it’s taken Dohnt only six months to create a nearly finished model, he should have no problem completing it before next year. The project has presented plenty of challenges, though, which Dohnt has worked hard to overcome in the name of perfect accuracy.
“Due to an accurate size and shape to scale, she also requires an accurate weight of ballast to scale in the bottom of the hull to make her sit correctly in the water,” he tells us. “This means she will weigh just over 140Kg once she is complete. But I was posed with an unusual problem with its unusual function. Usually large models like this are ballasted by removable weights. But the enclosed ballast tanks mean the weight has to be placed inside permanently. So after a lot of thought and testing, the perfect ballast for this model is concrete! This also resulted in a very unique heavy duty cradle system. With the fwd section “water ready” now as she sits, she has 91kg of concrete lining the bottom of her hull. With a further 50kg of concrete to be laid in the stern section.”
The result looks to be a marvel of engineering and design that should gain Dohnt a lot of publicity for his company, BernCo Models. He started the business last year as a way to not only recoup some of the costs involved in his expensive hobby, but to provide inexperienced and often attention span-challenged young people with an easy and relatively inexpensive way to learn about and participate in the art of model ship building. According to Dohnt, model ships are a dying hobby, and he intends to help revitalize the art form by showcasing his exquisite models and selling kits for others to build on their own.
Dohnt plans to have his Titanic model on the water by the end of July, with full detail and sinkability complete by the end of the year. Are you a 3D printing hobbyist? Discuss this replica over in the 3D Printed Titanic forum at 3DPB.com.