Autodesk partnered with the US National Park Service to undertake the most complete study of the USS Arizona in 30 years both above and below water using many 3D capture technologies. Two of the artifacts captured using photos and Autodesk ReCap Photo were iconic and historically significant as they had been in the hands or used by those onboard during the Pearl Harbor attacks of December 7th, 1941. The items were a cooking pot and a Coke bottle. The models created by Autodesk ReCap Photo were highly detailed given that we captured the photos SCUBA diving in very limited visibility water sometimes having to swim inverted upside down to photograph the objects and also prevent the silt from being stirred up.
Here is one of the project divers with a camera in an underwater housing taking photos. Easier said than done and definitely physically demanding capturing hundreds of photos in a orbiting sequence exercising good buoyancy and control. It was truly exhausting work and many of us found ourselves when resting on the dock falling asleep almost instantly after surfacing from a dive and doing this over 14 hours a day. I will never forget falling asleep in my wetsuit only to be awoken by tourists walking by and some taking photos of me under the dock as I lay there in a hot neoprene wetsuit.
After creating the 3D models and colleague Craig Barr touching up the model in Autodesk Mudbox, the models were so amazing we knew they had to be 3D printed. We could imagine the idea of people being able to hold accurate representations in 3D in their own hands of objects that currently rest on the deck of the USS Arizona. It was a natural and positive and beneficial use of 3D printing to be used in education and at the USS Arizona Memorial and World War II Valor in the Pacific.
I reached out to local Utah 3D printing company Whiteclouds.com and their amazing CEO Jerry Ropelato. Jerry immediately and without hesitation offered to 3D print the two artifacts in color and put me in contact with his 3D printing ninja Kyle Gifford who also uses Autodesk products like Autodesk Maya.
Here you can see a photo of the cooking pot as it rests on the deck of the USS Arizona covered in sponges and organic debris after over 70 years. This cooking pot was in the ships galley and used to cook meals for the service members onboard the USS Arizona. You truly feel the significance when down on the USS Arizona of all the lost lives and historical record of events and yet you still see objects the men used daily including the cooking pots, plates, coke bottles, shaving kits, shoe soles and more. These were items used by people not just another inanimate object under the water.
Here is the resulting 3D digital model of the cooking pot generated by Autodesk ReCap Photo. It was quite remarkable in detail.
Here you can see a photo of the 1941 Coke bottle complete with a US National Parks tag on it. It has remained on the deck of the USS Arizona since 1941.
Here is the resulting 3D digital model of the Coke bottle generated by Autodesk ReCap Photo and an image of the mesh in Autodesk Memento. It was another amazing result and you can even see all the organic life living on the bottle and the US NPS artifact tag.
This past Memorial Day was significant and emotional when Pete Kelsey and I got to meet one of the less than a dozen remaining survivors that were aboard the USS Arizona during the attack, US Navy veteran Don Stratton. Don Stratton's story of survival and loosing all his unit is a story one will never forget for as long as I live. Imagine burns over most of your body and diving into a harbor under attack with bombs and torpedoes with oil on the surface engulfed in fire, not being able to see, and pulling yourself to another ship by rope, and then after a long hospitalization re-enlisting back to active duty. What an amazing man that makes you just stand in awe and respect and truly a fine representative of America's finest generation. We handed Don the print of the artifacts that remain on the ship today.
When presented with the 3D print of the cooking pot for the first time, Stratton said, “That is amazing. I don’t know anybody in the galley that survived that day. At the time of the explosion, it was self-preservation. After that, it was extremely hard to return. Now, when I go back and remember, it’s a little easier. I think it [3D artifacts] will make an impression on a lot of people, I really do.”
We accompanied Don Stratton with a group of US Navy, US Coast Guard, and US National Park Service all dressed formal uniform out to the memorial with the flag flown at half mast and everyone silent but tears were almost audible as they streamed down faces and people made throat clearing sounds trying to not shed tears. I swear the sea level in the harbor rose that day from the shed tears and people thinking of lessons learned from the horrors of war. I will never ever forgot Don's facial expressions and demeanor at the memorial and wondering what he was thinking about as he peered down at the ships remains and at the memorial wall of names containing his shipmates and friends. I certainly wont ever forget his comment to a US Navy commander who was there with some of his young enlisted men "you take care of those young men." Another memorable quote was a NPS spokesperson and longtime friend of Don Stratton talked about how those that survived the attack have the option of being interned down on the ship after they pass but he said "Don would not be accepting that honor that as he was almost cremated once on the ship back in 1941, and did not want to be cremated again."
What a project and memory.
More on the USS Arizona Project:
Here is Autodesk's Pete Kelsey with USS Arizona survivor Don Stratton and the 3D print of the Cooking pot and coke bottle.
WhiteClouds Kyle Gifford and the 3D Print of the USS Arizona Artifacts.
Some of the facts on the 3D Prints from Whiteclouds:
The pieces were printed on the ProJet 660Pro by 3D Systems. This is a full-color 3D printer that uses powder jetting technology to build the object layer by layer. Each layer is 89 microns—slightly thinner than a human hair. The printer uses the CMYK spectrum of colors to produce realistic results. The objects are made of a gypsum-based powder that has been very precisely bonded together and colored.
The bottle took 5 hours and 24 minutes to print and has 959 layers. The cooking pot took 6 hours and 6 minutes to print and has a total of 1028 layers.
“We are continually amazed by the applications of 3D printing and now we can add underwater exploration to the list,” said Kerry Parker, VP of Business Development at WhiteClouds. “This really opens up possibilities. If you can imagine a classroom of students that will never have the opportunity to dive down and experience the remnants of the Arizona. Now, through 3D scanning and printing, it would be possible for them, or anyone, to hold and study a replicated artifact. This brings education to a new level. There’s something that’s communicated through physical objects that you don’t get with photographs or video. People and events, like the bombing at Pearl Harbor, become real.”
Photos of the 3D Prints in my hand. The Coke bottle is 1:1 scale and the cooking pot was print 1/3 scale.It was priceless each time someone held the 3D prints sand thought of the significance of them and their real counterparts on the deck of the USS Arizona.
Thank you WhiteClouds for the truly historic 3D Prints!
Now we at Autodesk are hard at work with the terabytes of 3D data we captured in hopes to produce a fully accurate 3D print of the entire USS Arizona. We wont be printing it to 1:1 scale of course, unless someone has a 400 feet x 200 feet x 150 feet build platform capacity 3D printer they would like to loan us.