One of the first projects I wanted to take on when I got my 3D printer and became a maker was a scale model of the memorial just outside of Arlington National Cemetery – the one for Sea Bees, the Navy unit my grandfather was a part of in WW II. I always wanted to take my grandmother there, but since she lives in Ohio and doesn’t travel much, I thought I could bring it to her.
I modeled it starting from an Autodesk 123D scan a long time ago, but kept experiencing setbacks – Blender making it hard to create an engraving, the accuracy of my 3d printer leaving a lot to be desired, etc. After each setback I’d cycle back every couple months and get a little bit closer. Until I finally got my glowforge and was able to iterate in-house, making things go a lot quicker. Anyway, long story short I finally reached the iteration I was happy with and set to making it.
For reference, here’s the original memorial:
And the replica:
I also took a bunch more photos of both you can compare in this album online.
I got some pretty amazing results with 3D engraved acrylic and gold leaf paint, which is really thin but adheres REALLY well, so if you apply it with a wet brush it fills every nook and cranny, but then you can dab away the excess. Here’s a close up of one of the engraved pieces replicating the bronze plaques.
3D engrave also made the plaque images really easy: I literally took a photo of the original plaques and just did a touch of Photoshop manipulation. Some areas aren’t 100% physically accurate to the original, but you’d have to look pretty closely to see the difference.
Without further ado, the files. I put them in a shared Google Drive folder since there’s also an STL for the statue in the center. For those who have 3D printers, it should be easy to self-produce, if not you can probably order one from Shapeways.
I’m releasing this for free partly because I feel weird selling something like this, but also because I have no real idea of the rights situations involved – the memorial itself was built in 1973, so it could be under copyright? It also presumably belongs to the National Parks Service? I didn’t really look into it, since the rules are pretty lax about artistic recreations given as gifts, but if you were to download this and do something else with it, it’s up to you to navigate the rights issues involved.