Nautilus Submarine Design

I was inspired by the Nautilus Submarine Art Car at Maker Faire 2013 to make my own steampunk-styled submarine.

There have been many interpretations of Jules Vern’s submarine Nautilus, but probably the most famous is from Disney’s ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’. I looked at many images to come up with my own design. I wanted to use sandstone so that the final model would be colored. It is also one of the least expensive materials that the online 3D printing service Shapeways supports.


I started with the body of the submarine using a subdivided block in Blender. It was important to make the submarine look functional, so the body had to be sleek for moving under water. I then added small rivets along the seams of the body. The top hatch also has all the mechanical parts to open on its hinge.


From my Steampunk Submarine design, I knew how to make a propeller that would be printable. I simplified the steering mechanism design by using panels in the fins to suggest the way it works.


I liked the side hatch from the Nautilus Submarine Art Car so I designed something very similar. And of course it needs a glass portal, so I made that look like an eye. The small horn-shapes on the front fins were somewhat challenging; I tried several shapes and tools but in the final version I placed each manually.

The last tweaks I made were for the various colors. Sandstone is particularly challenging since the colors don’t come out exactly as specified in the design. So it will be interesting to see what the final print looks like when it comes back from the printer.

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