Photos: The models at OTC
Each year, exhibitors at the Offshore Technology Conference haul massive valves, towering machines and hulking engines — each weighing hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds. But as much attention as big iron attracts, it is outshone year after year by much smaller displays.
Models are the perennial stars of OTC. The painstaking, intricate models depict intricate reproductions of ships, plants, rigs, compressors, engines and drill bits, set in dazzling display. Companies use models to show off their technologies and, they hope, make sales.
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The models, depending on the size, scale and ambition, can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars for a component to a few million dollars for displays of large projects that can fill a room — or several rooms.
Models were once the favored tool of prototyping, before the advent of computers and 3-D imaging that allows engineers and designers to make digital prototypes. Today, their prime purpose is marketing, a way to show off new products at trade shows such as OTC.
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Model-making is a highly skilled trade, practiced by a small number of craftsmen and women - just over 6,000 in the United States, according to the Census Bureau.
At OTC, the scale models of ships, rigs and offshore developments highlight the reach of the offshore energy industry. This slide show, by photographer Mike Wyke, highlights those small worlds.