3D Printing Solution: Replicating Parts for Historic Battleship

Author: Stefan Stalgren Nov 3, 2015 Posted in: Blog > News

Gun house BB55Could 3D Printing provide a cost-effective means of replicating missing switch knobs for the historic Battleship NORTH CAROLINA? Alex Dydula, volunteer researcher, sought the answer to that question and contacted CADJockey regarding computer-aided part design.

The battleship, commissioned in 1941 and retired six years later, is now a memorial and museum in the port of downtown Wilmington, N.C. Dydula is leading the current effort to restore transfer panels inside the ship’s gun houses. Missing from the panels are multiple switch knobs that gave operators manual control over communications between the ship’s electro-mechanical computer and the weaponry it maneuvered. With the communications of this era dependent upon wired connections, this manual operation became necessary in the event that specific sections of the ship were hit by artillery.

1990.025.0026Photos of the transfer panels from the 1940s (left) and current times Panel that is missing switches(right) show that multiple switch knobs need replicating and replacing.

CAD Jockey donated the design of the parts and recommended a 3D printer.

Originally made of cast metal, the parts are most likely to be replicated in a composite plastic for cost efficiency.

computer-aided design, 3D Printing, Raleigh NCDydula estimates there are five or six hundred of the knobs on the ship. Current restoration efforts focus on the two gun houses that are open to the touring public.

The battleship relies upon admissions, museum store sales, space rentals, donations and membership for its operating expenses. It does not receive government funds for its administration or operation. More than 200,000 visitors tour the ship each year. See the ship’s website for tour information.

According to the history page on ship’s website: “In 1958 the announcement of her impending scrapping led to a statewide campaign by citizens of North Carolina to save the ship from the scrappers torches and bring her back to her home state. The Save Our Ship (SOS) campaign was successful and the Battleship arrived in her current berth on 2 October 1961. She was dedicated on 29 April 1962 as the State’s memorial to its World War II veterans and the 11,000 North Carolinians who died during the war.” Read more about the ship’s history:

Ship photos courtesy of Battleship NORTH CAROLINA.