JFD Global – Agile Submersible

JFD Global a renowned leader in subsea technology and maritime solutions asked Malcolm Nicholls to manufacture a 1:10 scale 3d printed scale model

JFD 3D Printed Scale Model

JFD Global, a renowned leader in subsea technology and maritime solutions, entrusted Malcolm Nicholls Ltd (MNL) with the creation of a 1:10 3d printed scale model of their groundbreaking agile submersible. This collaboration was driven by MNL’s reputation for precision engineering and expertise in producing intricate models and prototypes, aligning perfectly with JFD’s commitment to innovation and excellence in underwater technology.

They were on the verge of unveiling their groundbreaking agile submersible at an upcoming exhibition and needed an awe-inspiring showcase that would leave a lasting impression on attendees. Their vision extended beyond a simple display; they aimed to transport exhibition-goers into the depths of the ocean without getting wet.

From Data to Chrome print in only a Few Days

Purpose and Environment

Intriguingly, the core objective JFD presented to Malcolm Nicholls Ltd was not merely about showcasing a product but about immersing the audience into the submersible’s world. They envisioned an exhibition environment where attendees would feel like they were exploring the ocean floor alongside the agile submersible. It was about creating an unforgettable experience within the exhibition setting.


Time was of the essence as the exhibition was fast approaching. JFD entrusted Malcolm Nicholls Ltd with a tight 6-week timeframe to design, develop, and construct this immersive masterpiece.

Functional Features

The functional 3d printed scale model had to be more than just a static display. It had to come to life. JFD specified that it should include built-in lights on the submersible’s front, a submerged TV recreating the ocean, and an illuminated stand proudly showcasing the word “Agile.”

The Build

To achieve the required level of precision and aesthetics, Malcolm Nicholls Ltd opted for Somos Watershed material on their Neo 800, the largest 3D printer in their arsenal. This choice wasn’t arbitrary; it was driven by the Neo’s remarkable precision, generous build capacity, and the material’s exceptional surface finishing properties. Additionally, the clear domed viewing portal, a critical component, was carefully vacuum cast to ensure UV stability, guaranteeing the longevity of the exhibit.

Scale Model

The attention to detail was paramount. The submersible model was meticulously crafted to a scale of 1:10, allowing viewers to appreciate every aspect of this groundbreaking technology.

Design Verification

Before production began, Malcolm Nicholls Ltd produced 3D renders of the complete exhibit, including the intricate stand, lighting features, and all other details. This step ensured that the design met JFD’s vision, allowing for adjustments as needed.

Carbon Fiber Lay Ups in a SLA 3d Print for Stability

Selection of Manufacturing Process

Careful consideration led to the choice of Stereolithography (SLA) as the manufacturing process. Its unparalleled accuracy, superior surface finish, and the ability to create all four sections simultaneously aligned perfectly with the project’s demands. The one drawback to using SLA for a scale model is that they can distort and sag over time, JFD wanted to be able to use this scale model for years to come so as part of the build we used internal carbon fibre patches to help prevent any long-term sagging to the model. While vacuum casting was utilised to ensure the end portal’s UV stability.

Unsuitability of Other Technologies;

While alternative technologies like Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) were available, they were ruled out due to the rougher surface finish inherent in the process. Opting for SLS would have necessitated extensive post-processing and, crucially, would have extended the project timeline beyond what JFD’s exhibition schedule allowed. FDM was also explored however the surface finishing coupled with the overall porosity ruled out FDM too.

CAD Requirements and Contributions

In the CAD stage, Malcolm Nicholls Ltd played a crucial role in ensuring the model’s integrity. They added strategically placed supporting tubes for steel support rods, reinforcing the structure and ensuring it could withstand the rigours of the exhibition environment.

Technological Challenges Overcome

Several technological challenges had to be overcome to realise this immersive 3d printed scale model exhibit. Our technical team had to create renders for the customer for initial approval before the project could even start. Reinforcing the model with steel rods was crucial for ensuring its stability. When scaling down the submersible, CAD adjustments were meticulously made to ensure the highest build quality possible.

And finally, a comprehensive step-by-step assembly guide was created to expedite the setup process at the exhibition.

Memorable Aspect of the Project

The culmination of these efforts was nothing short of remarkable. When the stand and submersible came together, it wasn’t just an exhibition piece; it was a work of art that left everyone involved filled with pride. The exhibit was not just about showcasing technology; it was about creating an unforgettable experience for all

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