Preserving the Seabee Memorial with 3D Scanning

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seabee-official-seal-1006x1024The Seabees are members of the Naval Construction Forces. The term comes from the initials for Construction Battalion (CB) and has as its mascot the cutest builder bee you could ever hope to lay eyes on. The Seabees are the group of folks responsible for building bases, constructing thousands of miles of roads and airstrips, and otherwise being the badasses of construction within military theaters dating from World War II forward. Their motto? “We do the difficult immediately, the impossible takes a little longer.”

The Seabee memorial that stands in the Arlington National Cemetery was sculpted by Felix de Weldon, the same man responsible for the Iwo Jima Memorial, and features depictions of contributions to war efforts made by Seabees since 1942. At the center of the memorial stands a muscular figure with a rifle slung over one shoulder giving a helping hand to a child. The monument was constructed in the 1970s and has served as not only a memorial but an ongoing affirmation to those involved that their service has been and continues to be meaningful and their legacy powerful. As explained by Rear Admiral David J. Nash, King Bee and founder of the Seabee Historical Foundation:

“It’s sort of a grounding. Every year around the Seabee birthday, which we say is in the first week of March, we all come out to celebrate the history of the Seabees. We have World War II Seabees, Korean Seabees, Vietnam Seabees, and Afghanistan Seabees. We celebrate that. It’s the grounding for the entire cadre – not only for us, but for the Civil Engineer Corp who serves with the Seabees.”

seabees_monument_scan_web

As this is such a meaningful object, it seems only natural that it would be important to ensure that it is fully documented. But Ken Bingham, a former Seabee and currently a volunteer with the CEC/Seabee Historical Foundation, wanted to capture the monument in a way that would allow others to take a physical version of it home with them. In pursuit of this idea, he reached out to Automated Precision Inc. (API) to see if it would be possible to have something created to fit this bill. As Bingham described:

“This project has been on my mind for a long time – to get a replica of this for the museum so we can distribute to donors and sell it in the store – it’s a really good project. I’m really proud API and I met up to get this done. It’s really important that we preserve this. This monument encompasses everything about the Seabees. Can do, can build, can fight.”

stephen_strand_hemi-scanner_web-300x200API donated their time and expertise, using two of their scanners, the API Imager and the API Hemiscan, to create a high resolution digital copy of the monument. The Applications Engineer for Automated Precision, Stephen Strand, detailed the process by which the data was gathered for the scan:

“We’re going to scan it at a pretty high resolution that way we get a pretty clean polygonal model that they will use for the 3D printing. They’ll have the ability to scale this down to a mini version, or with the density that these scanners provide you could even print a to scale model if you wanted to. The targets in the background help us combine all these positions together and creates a network of the scans as they go around. That way the scans know their positions as we walk around the statue and get the scans from the different sides.”

With that digital model, they will be able to print out versions of the model to use in all the ways that they had hoped with the help of a local university which has agreed to do the printing for the museum. It’s a wonderful way in which cutting edge technology helps to keep a historic flame alight, both paying homage to what has been done and holding it up for the next generation to see.

[Source: Advanced Manufacturing]

 

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