3D Scanners

Netherlands Royal Navy using Artec 3D scanners for reverse engineering

Since May, Marinebedrijf Koninklijke Marine (MKM), the material and asset maintenance company of the Netherlands Royal Navy, has been using Artec 3D scanners to scan a range of the Netherlands’ naval craft and reverse engineer the complex parts within them. The company made use of Artec’s structured light “Eva” and “Space Spider” scanners for the project.

The problem with manual replication and repairs

Ben Jansen, CNC coordinator at Marinebedrijf Koninklijke Marine, noted that “a lot of times we don’t have drawings or 3D CAD files of the things that need to be repaired or where we need to make new parts for existing systems”. This applies to out of use parts from older vessels, or parts inaccessible on a ship. While reconstruction of parts after measuring the existing ones was sometimes possible, it was not always feasible.

A damaged propeller next to an Arcam Scanner. Photo via Arcam.
A damaged propeller next to an Artec EVA 3D Scanner and a scanned and reproduced archetype. Photo via Artec.


Jansen notes that “older processes were very intensive requiring multiple types of measuring tools and then replicating the drawing into a CAD programme”. In light of this, scanning and reverse engineering is the most viable, most cost effective and least labour intensive solution.

The forthcoming Artec LEO 3D scanner. Photo by Michael Petch.
The forthcoming Artec LEO 3D scanner. Photo by Michael Petch.


Scanning complex parts

When a part is scanned, the resulting file is adjusted on Artec Studio to create a “perfect model”. This model is then expored to reverse engineering CAD program Spaceclaim, ready to be turned into an STL file or instructions for a CNC milling machine.

Several case studies summarise the effectiveness of 3D scanning. The first is an impeller on a Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel used to land marines on the shore. The impeller was damaged by rocks when it manoeuvred to go back into the sea from land. Instead of replacing the entire repeller, Artec’s 3D scanner was used to scan and identify the damaged sections, that would not have visible to the naked eye, creating an STL file. The damaged sections were them repaired using a robotic welder.

Another useful application of the Artec 3D scanning technology is the replacement of the seats on FRISC-type high-speed interception boats. While necessary, the seats are damaged by the high impact of waves. With the seat scanned by the Eva 3D imager, this could then be used to create a 3D printed prototype, or a reverse engineered mold for a final product.

A scanned part being prepared for reverse engineering with SpaceClaim. Image via Artec.
A scanned part being prepared for reverse engineering with SpaceClaim. Image via Artec.


Artec also states that its technology has been used to repair historically significant vessels. The “Green Drake,” a former royal ship owned by the Netherlands navy. The parts can then be replicated using 3D printing, 3-5 axis CNC milling, injection molding or manual welding. Jansen, referring to the improved processes, says that “because we now have a complete 3D model, we have all the correct dimensions of every object”.

Netherlands, forefront of 3D marine technology

The Damen Shipyards Group, also based in the Netherlands, is working with RAMLAB, Promarin, Autodesk and Bureau Veritas is currently prototyping the world’s first 3D printed propeller. Nicknamed the WAAMpeller, it is supported by the Netherlands’ National Institute for Shipping and Shipbuilding (NISS), and aims to print a working propeller from Nickel Aluminium Bronze (NAB) alloy using Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM).

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Our featured image shows Artec’s Studio software used to fine-tune a scan of a damaged impeller. Image via Artec.

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