Massive 3D-Printed Replica of a Legendary WWI Ship Makes Waves

Nestled along the coast of Belgium is the mostly open-air Raversyde in Ostend with its bunkers, observation posts, and subterranean corridors. This museum is unique in that it commemorates sites that were instrumental in both world wars: in WWI as a coastal battle and during WWII as the site where Nazi Germany built the Atlantic Wall as a defense. For the museum’s opening weekend of the season, which this year is on June 15th, they prepared a new focal point in the exhibition of the First World War Coastal Battery. The highlight of the exhibit is a massive, highly detailed, 3D-printed model of the Mauretania that carried out different but essential functions during WWI.

3D printing made the most sense for Raversyde’s Mauretania model due to the size, material, and timing of the project. Image credit: Trudo Modelbouwvereniging

The Mauretania was the largest passenger ship built in 1906 and, despite its size, held awards for its speed for over 20 years. These two factors made it an ideal candidate to effectively be used as troop transport during WWI. By the end of the war, the ship was painted in what is called dazzle painting, which played a vital role in protecting naval and trade vessels during the World War. The jagged patterns and clashing colors camouflaged the ships and made it hard for enemies to get a fix on the target. During the war, the Mauretania carried British, Canadian, and American troops and was able to evade German U-boats with its speed. As the need arose, the Mauretania was even transformed into a hospital ship. Eventually, it went back to troop transport and ended up transferring soldiers from many Allied countries.
Raversyde wanted to highlight the use of Dazzle camouflage during the First World War by creating their own large-scale model for the exhibit. They had previously used another museum’s historical wooden model on loan but wanted to realize their own with a length of over 1.7 meters to impactfully fill their new exhibition space. Additionally, since this part of the museum is exposed to the elements, they wanted the model to be able to withstand the weather fluctuations, which is not the case with traditional wooden models. From their previous experience from other exhibits,  they knew that 3D printing made the most sense for their project due to the size, material, and timing of the project.
The museum ended up choosing to work with i.materialise because they had previously worked with us before on another project on a recreation of the 3D model of the whole First World War battery of the site.
“As a public organization we worked with the procedure of a tender where multiple firms were asked to put in an offer, we decided to select by the criterion of the price, and i.materialise came out as the winner. Because of their previous work, we knew what quality to expect,” according to Kathleen Ribbens, the Registrar and Collection Caretaker at Raversyde....