The Merkava MK2 tank first rolled out into the service of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) back in 1983, seen as a vast improvement over the first version of the war machine extensively used in the 1982 Lebanon War. Since then, the tank has gone through four iterations, and to this day, is the main battle tank still in production for the IDF Armored Corps, although it was discontinued between 2006 and 2013. 3D printing was never enlisted to help develop the latest Merkava tanks in particular, but the technology has been utilized by the Israeli Air Force to revive their old fighter planes, and also to 3D print military-grade drones as well.
But now, thanks to the video game-focused 3D printing marketplace Gambody, which recently brought us an impressively detailed Millennium Falcon Model, the Merkava MK2 battle tank can be built on your desktop 3D printer. Gambody has just added a 3D model of the Israeli battle tank into their Armoured Warfare Collectibles, offering their community the opportunity to get a hands-on experience of one of the Israeli military’s most powerful weapons right upon their print bed. The Merkava MK2 3D model features an extremely accurate depiction of the tank’s outer elements, which include the main gun, machine guns, side-skirts that partially cover the caterpillars of the tank, and the turret that crowns the top of the tank. The caterpillar components, which act as a treading system for the tank’s wheels, are modeled so that they could be 3D printed in a resin material.
The interior layout for the Merkava MK2 is comprised of the engine compartment at the front, the driver’s compartment in the middle, and the ammunition storage compartment at the rear of the tank, helping to complete an extremely accurate replica of this historic Israeli weapon. All in all, the entire 3D model consists of 46 separate components, each of which has been optimized to be produced on all types of 3D printers. The parts were designed to be 3D printed on an 18 x 19 cm print bed, and are compatible with any 3D printing program used in between the process. The entire 3D model itself is 24:1 scale replica of the actual Merkava MK2, and requires very little support material during the printing process.
Once the 3D printed Merkava MK2 is put together, you’ll have a finished product that measures out to 158mm wide, 167mm in height, and 345mm deep. The Merkava MK2 model will appear just as it would on the battlefield, equipped with articulated manholes, guns, and workable caterpillar tracks. The entire 3D model is purchasable from Gambody for $39.99, which will provide their customers with the entire set of optimized .STL files. These files were produced in Cura 15.06 and Repetier Host software, and were then checked and repaired via Netfabb.
Gambody has provided an information kit for the Merkava MK2, which can be downloaded here, they’ve also put together a video detailing the assembly of the 3D printed components, which can be viewed below. Discuss this further in the 3D Printed Tank Replica forum over at 3DPB.com.[Source: Gambody]