Students from Poland made a 3D printed shipwreck model that will be displayed at their local museum. They also learned a lot of new skills in the process.

3D printing is quickly becoming standard curriculum at the science and technology universities but is often absent in high schools. In Poland, there’s no school subject dedicated to digital fabrication so it’s up to the teachers to introduce it. As a result, some amazing afterschool projects are born like the one from Kolobrzeg, where students recreated a ship sunk during World War II.

3d printed shipwreck model
3D printed shipwreck model and mock-up of the original ship made by students from Kolobrzeg, Poland

From the depths of the sea…

Jacek Kawalek, a teacher from Henryk Sienkiewicz’s technical school, was asked by the local Museum of Polish Weaponry to use ZMorph multitool 3D printers to recreate a ship lying at the bottom of the Baltic Sea.

3d printed shipwreck model
Shipwreck of a German gunboat lying at the bottom of the Baltic Sea

German gunboat MFP type – AM was used to transport troops and tanks as well as an artillery support. It was sunk during the battle for Kolobrzeg when Polish army sieged the city in last months of World War II. For students, this was a perfect opportunity to learn more about their local history but most of all to combine archive data with modern technology.

3d printed shipwreck model
3D model of the original gunboat from World War II

The entire project took most of the school year and was divided into two stages that resulted in the building of two models – 3D printed shipwreck model and a detailed mock-up model of the original ship.

Stage one – 3D printed shipwreck model

First, students from Kolobrzeg received a 3D scan of the shipwreck. They divided the model into 25 parts and printed them using special PLA filament that imitates sand. This was the base for a 1.2 m long diorama with a scaled down visualization of how the remains look like now.

3d printed shipwreck model
3D printed parts of the shipwreck model before gluing them together and painting

3D printed parts were post-produced and painted with gray paint so the shipwreck stands out from the sandy sea bottom. They also added a 3D printed plaque with a location of the ship and filled the corners of the diorama with an actual sea sand for additional effect.

3d printed shipwreck model
Parts of the 3D printed shipwreck model were hand painted by students

Stage two – mock-up model

Once the 3D printed shipwreck model was ready, Jacek Kawalek and his students started to design a 3D model and 3D print an accurate mock-up of the ship. They scaled down the original 45-metres long ship and recreated even the smallest details like railings, flak guns, ammo crates, etc.

3d printed shipwreck model
Mock-up model of the ship included many details – even tanks transported in the cargo hold

The second stage proved to be very challenging because of the complexity of the model and the pressure of time since most of the students were graduating that year. For the entire team, this was a crazy but very educational ride. It allowed them to learn new 3D modeling, 3D printing, post-production and project management skills that aren’t included in regular high school curriculum.

3d printed shipwreck model
Students, teachers, and local authorities celebrate the completion of the project

In just about 7 months both models were completed and presented to the Museum of Polish Weaponry in Kolobrzeg where they are now on display.

3d printed shipwreck model
Jacek Kawalek (giving the interview) and his students attracted a lot of media attention thanks to their hard work and determination

Successful implementation of 3D printing

Jacek Kawalek and his students continue to work on other 3D printing projects even during their summer vacations. The most ambitious one is Kolobrzeg 3D for which they’re building a detailed diorama of their town’s old city.


Other schools, local companies, and government authorities already started cooperating with Henryk Sienkiewicz’s technical school in Kolobrzeg to explore various applications of 3D printing too. They all want to utilize the potential unlocked by providing young people with an ability to work with the most advanced digital fabrication solutions. This experience will also benefit the students in their higher education and future careers.


Content Marketing Manager at ZMorph. 3D printing enthusiast and avid gamer

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