Preparing a scale model-part 1

I have spent the better part of the past year modelling up an 87m vessel, first the structure and then the spooling, which I have previously written about here.

Last week I was asked to prepare a model in order for a 1.2m scale model to be built. I have worked on the assumption that I need to provide a single, solid body comprising the outer surfaces of the vessel, with some sort of detail for the windows, doorways, hatches and the like. So that the model can be CNC milled or 3D printed as a single entity.

Excluding the hull, all other surfaces are generally flat. Luckily I had initially modeled them as such, meaning that they were easy to work with. But there has still been plenty of manipulation needed in order for all surfaces to be watertight, and stitch cleanly into solids. I have done a fair amount of surface modeling, so I know what to look out for, but naturally there was a stray mm here and there. And with surfaces these ‘minor’ issues become major ones when it comes time to stitch them together. With such precision work the challenge is always to not rush it, and force surfaces together that don’t want to stitch, as even a single error will make things very complicated down the line. In the past I have always been frustrated when I have imported other designer’s surface files, as there have always been errors, and of course as soon as any further work needs to be done it gets very complicated very quickly! My preference is always to redraw, rather than struggle for hours to produce an inferior end product. As soon as I start to struggle with the modeling process, experience has taught me that something has gone wrong, and any further modeling work that I do, I will inevitably scrap anyway. But as we all know, when you are in the thick of it, taking a step back is easier said than done.

I am enjoying this job, and it’s something slightly different. as the majority of the design that I have done goes straight to the CNC cutter or the factory floor. So while I don’t need to be mindful of designing parts that are practical to manufacture and assemble, I still need to model geometry that is able to be turned into a model, and CAM is even more unforgiving than boilermakers. I will be handing over my model in the next couple of days, and looking forward to the feedback as to what still needs to be done.

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