Setting sail in 2018 will be the Atlantic Mercy, the world’s largest civilian hospital ship, measuring a staggering 174.1 meters in length, weighing 37,000 tons, and featuring a total deck area of 30,000 square meters. This floating hospital will provide free health care, as well as palliative care for terminally ill patients. The goal of the ship is to double the healing capabilities provided by Mercy Ships in developing nations all around the world. Being built at the Tianjin Xingang Shipyard in China, its completion is scheduled for July 2017.
One graduate engineering student at LeTourneau University, named Hans Nelson, was challenged with 3D printing a 1:176 scale model of the Atlantic Mercy. He presented it to Mercy Ships on Wednesday, January 28th, alongside LETU engineering dean Dr. Ron DeLap.
Nelson was helped out by another LeTourneau graduate student, David Wright, who drew up the entire CAD model based on the 2D drawings he was provided of each of the ship’s decks. Nelson then took that model and dissected it down into individual components so that it would fit on the the school’s 3D printer’s print bed which measures 9″ x 9″ x 9″ in dimensions.
To print the boat, Nelson used a PolyPrinter Plus, which is an FFF-based 3D printer, and a machine which Nelson tells us is one of the most impressive 3D printers he has ever had the pleasure of working with. Printing the boat was no easy task. With every single piece of the ship 3D printed, it took a lot of hard work and an extraordinary amount of time to complete.
“There are over 80 individual printed components that I had to assemble and glue together like a giant puzzle,” Nelson tells 3DPrint.com. “Each and every staircase, and many of the other small features were printed separately and then bonded into place. This project has taken over 200 man hours, and almost as many machine hours again to produce the final model that we [presented] to Mercy Ships. One of the interesting features of the model is that it was designed to come apart so that the main medical floor would be visible.”
When all was said and done, Nelson was left with an extremely detailed replica of this extraordinary ship, measuring approximately 3 feet in length. Not quite the same 2-football-field lengths that the real ship will take up, but still a rather large print in the world of 3D printing and model making.
It is truly amazing what Nelson was capable of accomplishing, using a sub-$3,000 3D printer. It is equally as impressive what fellow student David Wright was able to do, as far as creating the 3D virtual model based on 2D images and drawings.
“I also want to express a big thank you to Rikki Bailey of Garage Art Studio, who donated the entire paint job for the model, to David Wright, to PolyPrinter, to Opti-Case, and to LeTourneau University for making all of this possible,” noted Nelson.
What do you think of this incredible 3D printed model of one of the world’s most impressive ships? Discuss in the 3D Printed Atlantic Mercy forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the video of Nelson presenting his ship below.