(Coppell, TX; July 2012) Synappsys Digital Services, a sculpture enlargement and reduction company based in Norman, OK, used NVisions 3D HandHeld laser scanner to create the model for a sculptured tribute to U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan that is now on display near Ground Zero in New York City.
In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush dispatched Task Force Dagger to Afghanistan. The task force is a joint Special Operations team consisting of Green Berets from the 5th Special Forces Group, aircrew members from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, and Air Force Combat controllers. The men were offered horses by the Afghan tribes they were supporting and rode into battle with the Afghan Northern Alliance against the Taliban.
When sculptor Douwe Blumberg of DeMossville, Kentucky, saw a photo of the Special Forces soldiers fighting on horseback in Afghanistan he was moved to create a sculpture. He spent nine months creating an 18 inch tall clay model called a maquette. The maquette depicted a Green Beret on horseback holding field glasses and an M4 carbine with attached grenade launcher. An anonymous group of Wall Street bankers who lost friends and co-workers in the attacks learned about his effort and commissioned Blumberg to build a large-scale version for a monument near Ground Zero.
Blumberg contracted with Synappsys Digital Services to create the large-scale version of the maquette. Synappsys has produced many such enlargements for dozens of leading artists. We selected the NVision HandHeld laser scanner for this work because the NVision software shows in great detail what the scanner is seeing, said Alan Ray, owner of Synappsys. This feature saves a lot of time because without it we could never be sure that we had scanned the entire model until after we had finished the job and reviewed the point cloud.
The NVision Handheld scanner is a powerful portable scanning device that is capable of capturing 3D geometry from objects of almost any size or shape. The scanner is attached to a mechanical arm that moves about the object, freeing the user to capture data rapidly with a high degree of resolution and accuracy. An optional tripod provides complete portability in the field. Intuitive software allows full model editing, polygon reduction, and data output to all standard CAD packages.
Synappsys first scanned the maquette in order to create a CAD model of the sculpture. The HandHeld scanner collected millions of points on the maquette. The resulting point cloud was converted into a mesh and then imported into a rapid prototyping software package where it was converted to a watertight 3D digital representation of the maquette. Synappsys then enlarged this CAD model and used it to create a computer numerical control (CNC) program. They sectioned the computer model into pieces and produced each section on a CNC milling machine to the final size. The individual pieces were assembled with glue. Clay was applied to the foam model and Blumberg tooled the final surface. The resultant life-and-a-half-scale, 13-foot-tall foam model of the sculpture was used to produce the mold for the final 5000-pound bronze sculpture.
The statue is titled De Oppresso Liber (to free the oppressed), the Green Berets motto. It was introduced to the public during the Veterans Day Parade in New York City in 2011. Currently displayed at One World Financial Center opposite Ground Zero in New York City, Blumberg expects that it will be installed in a permanent location immediately adjacent to the 9/11 Memorial and Ground Zero at the World Trade Center site in the near future.
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