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Robotics Hardware

3D Printing in Stone, or Copy a Sculpture in Rock 186

An anonymous reader writes "With all this design your own parts and electronics talk lately here on /., what about creating your own stone sculpture on a PC or Copying a Stone Sculpture? You can do that with an outfit called Studio Roc in CA. The New York Times has an interesting article on this marriage of CAD, laser scanning, and rocks. 'Using a huge Italian-made Omag Mill5 five-axis milling machine equipped with a scanner and 30 interchangeable diamond-tipped bits and blades, the Mill5 can record nearly any object in minutes and carve a duplicate in any stone in a few hours.'"
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3D Printing in Stone, or Copy a Sculpture in Rock

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  • by Anonymous Coward own Venus De Milo RealDoll(tm)?
  • now you can have your head scanned and have a really scare tombstone !!! :)
  • by toetagger1 ( 795806 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @07:52AM (#9778396)
    I wonder if that machine could make a life-sized sculputure of myself? Where shall I put it?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    the Mill5 can record nearly any object in minutes and carve a duplicate in any stone in a few hours.
    I wanna see it carve something in diamond... maybe use that huge 182 carat diamond they found in Guinea a couple days ago.
    • An uncut 182 carats is roughly the size of your fist. Not too huge really...
    • maybe use that huge 182 carat diamond they found in Guinea a couple days ago.

      Shh... don't spoil it. Everyone's still waiting for the /. article about that.
  • What? Are they serving the site from the milling machine?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    So there you are, kids. You can now really have Natalie Portman petrified.

    Which she probably already is...

  • by Himring ( 646324 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @07:54AM (#9778408) Homepage Journal
    what about creating your own stone sculpture? ...'Using a huge Italian-made Omag Mill5 five-axis milling machine

    Sounds great! I'm supposing Staples will have the huge Italian-made Omag Mill5 five-axis milling machine....
  • Nice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nycsubway ( 79012 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @07:54AM (#9778410) Homepage
    Oh, this is nice, especially for restoring old buildings. If an artist can recreate a plaster mold, they can get a stone copy. That could save a lot of time in restoration.

    This could also have potential in restoring wood carvings, assuming the machine can mill wood.

    • by plover ( 150551 ) * on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:05AM (#9778472) Homepage Journal
      How much wood would a stone mill mill if a stone mill could mill wood?
    • Re:Nice (Score:3, Informative)

      by RPI Geek ( 640282 )
      If the machine can mill stone, it can mill wood. I've done it before, but you do have to be careful about the feedrate and small features or else you run the risk of splintering the wood.

      I don't see how it could restore a wood carving though...
    • If it is anything like our mill it can't do wood. Our blades and mill are too powerful, and instead of taking out a carving it takes chunks out. The problem comes when you try to cut out either a very strong wood or a weak one. If it is too strong it will pull parts of the wood with it when you cut, but too soft will actually "melt" the wood, or cut huge chunks even with really low RPM.
      • Re:Nice (Score:2, Informative)

        by Wierd Willy ( 161814 )
        Jeezuz people, what kind of machinists are you? I have milled wood, alabaster, graphite and other ultra-soft materials with CNC mills and lathes hundreds of times, even soft pine. You need high spindle speeds and low feed rates and razor sharp tools. Milling, you use low angle 2 flute endmills exclusively. Lathe nothing but cobalt steel cutters ground to a knife edge, no greater than 60 degrees.

        Typically, most modern mills have factory maximum spindle speed of 10,000 RPM. There are doublers and triplers an
    • could also get that done at virtually most protoype machine shops across the US.

      If they have laser scan capable CMMs (That's Coordinate Measuring Machines), just about any 5-Axis Vertical Milling Machine and some decent machine operators it can be done.

      Heck, you could even have that milled out of high-quality Aircraft Aluminum, like a 7000-series. You could also go with tooling steel, like Cold Drawn 1018 Carbon Steel or S-7 Tooling Steel...

      None of this is really new. The technology has
  • Would have helped New Hampsire save face. []
  • I wonder... (Score:2, Funny)

    by lankiveil ( 796473 )
    I wonder how long it's going to be before someone figures out how to use this wonderful new technology for smut?
  • Soon on P2P (Score:3, Funny)

    by t_allardyce ( 48447 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @07:57AM (#9778425) Journal
    Oh great, get ready for a host of law-suits as Da Vinci comes back from the dead to sew 'Sculpture Pirates' copying ancient IP.

  • It seems so useless, but yet I am compelled to get one. Such is the /. way
  • Does anyone know why they use a diamond tipped cutter instead of a laser cutter? Does the laser simply slice too far, too fast? Or is the diamond cutter really that much more efficient?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:06AM (#9778481)

      Does anyone know why they use a diamond tipped cutter instead of a laser cutter?

      Probably because the frickin' sharks demanded better benefits.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:08AM (#9778487)
      Laser cutting (or abrasive waterjet) is usually for flat items like sheetmetal where you make the cut all the way through the material. If you need to make a partial cut, a mechanical device is your only choice.
    • by RPI Geek ( 640282 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:10AM (#9778504) Journal
      There's a few reasons.

      Conventional millers are cheaper.

      Lasers can't get inside features like hollowed-out areas (they can't control depth as well because they don't know the exact material properties inside the stone, and if it hit an unexpected soft spot, oops! there goes the whole thing.

      A laser cutter would use much more energy to burn the material away than a conventional mill uses to just chip it.

      Hope this helps.

    • Diamond cutters are the hardest cutters possible. typically, the diamond tips on the cutting edges will maintain their sharpness with low shear angles in highly friable materials such as stone or graphite. This is why spindle speeds would have to be very high to reduce actual impact pressures on the cutting edges themselves.

      Hardness is inversely purportional to shear strength. The harder the material of the peice, the smaller the chipload allowance on the cutter. The harder the cutter, the higher spindle s
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Just like people are writing software that compose their own music, this could potentially give software the ability to create its own "artistic" sculptures... cool!

    PS. Han Solo hates the idea of a full size sculpture of himself. ;o)
  • Family albums (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jstave ( 734089 )
    Just think how weird one could get with this. Instead of bronzing the baby's shoes, you can make multiple, lifesized statues of them as they grow up.
    • Good idea. The only problem is that the baby would have to keep completely still while scanned, which might be diffcult.

      Would work for a sleeping baby though.
      • For now, but add multiple lasers, increase their scanning speed, etc, etc... Stuff you could expect happening anyways....

        And someday you could have a 3D "photo". Complete scan done in 1/60 of a second - statue to take home while you wait.

        Awkward family albums ensue....
        "Look Kids, Mom really was a hottie!"
        "Little Stevie, it's o.k. to be curious, but don't touch your mother's statue there..."
  • by denis-The-menace ( 471988 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:02AM (#9778459)
    The Stone Masson Association of America will not stand for such a thing. They will soon lobby for a DMCA-like legislation to outlaw progress like this.
    • The Stone Masson Association of America will not stand for such a thing. They will soon lobby for a DMCA-like legislation to outlaw progress like this.

      You joke about this, but this is exactly what happened with industries in the past - laws have been passed so that people can continue profitting from them when new technologies have threatened people's livelyhoods.

      Consider - once upon a time, if you were a story teller, the way you would make more money was by visiting towns and telling your stories, and
    • Yeah, better not underestimate the political clout that the masons [] can wield.

    • The Stone Masson Association of America will not stand for such a thing. They will soon lobby for a DMCA-like legislation to outlaw progress like this.

      That's ok - the Free Masons will stop least if you know the right handshake.

  • by Stiletto ( 12066 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:17AM (#9778551)

    Friday, July 23, 4004
    NEW YORK (AP) - A new organization has been created to promote the copying and redistribution of stone sculptures. Calling itself the Free Sculpture Foundation, or FSF, the group aims to "free" works of art which until now have been "hoarded" by stone copyrighters.

    "How can you copyright a piece of rock?? It's the earth, man!" Hippie and founder Richard Stoneman said he got his idea from a recent Slashdot post, "3D Printing in Stone, or Copy a Sculpture in Rock". Great works such as those by Michelangelo will be among his first projects.

    Industry groups are not impressed. Chiseled Sales, Inc. spokeswoman Hillary Rocken announced the formation of a trade group opposed to Mr. Stoneman's band of fredom fighters. The Rock Is Available Association, or RIAA is set to lobby government officials to crack down on these "rock robbers". "The talented sculpturers we represent are losing hard earned profits by these thieves. Stone may come from the earth, but that shouldn't stop us from selling it," Rocken said in a prepared statement.

    The debate is not likely to go away any time soon. Shortly after the formation of the FSF, a new rival group was formed, calling itself the Open Stone movement. President Erock S Raymond called for a meeting of the minds between business and stone consumers, noting the benefits of opening up the hardware "blueprints" to great works of art.

  • DRM? (Score:3, Funny)

    by thesp ( 307649 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:17AM (#9778553)
    Does this mean statues will now come equipped with DRM? If this machine can make Venus de Milo knockoffs with arbitrary precision, it can save the data it uses to carve. Then put that datafile on a P2P, and anyone with a statue burner will be able to make bootleg Venuses! I'm sure the art industry is already getting worried!
    • Probably there will be a hidden watermark in your Venus of Milo ;)
    • If this machine can make Venus de Milo knockoffs with arbitrary precision, it can save the data it uses to carve.

      I think I could stand a little imprecision around the chest area.....
  • by mikael ( 484 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:19AM (#9778572)
    the Mill5 can record nearly any object in minutes and carve a duplicate in any stone in a few hours.'

    If it can duplicate CD's and DVD's, the RIAA are going to be annoyed.
  • by panurge ( 573432 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:35AM (#9778683)
    You need a block of stone in the first place, from which you remove stuff. It's exactly the same as standard sculpture except that instead of apprentices, laborers and great big stone saws, they're using a milling machine to get a high quality rough. And (RTFA) this does produce a rough: hand finishing is required, just as special finishing is required with the output of most machine tools. The comments this is getting suggest to me that too many people nowadays don't have a clue about manufacturing - and we in the West will surely regret this one day.

    Printing is a process that involves ADDING material to a substrate, not taking it away.

    So yes, it's a nice application of one of those multi-axis machine tools the Italians do so well, but it's basically the same as any die-sinking process.

  • Wouldn't you love for your girlfriend (mythical or otherwise) to pose naked for this?

    "They can take a twelve-inch piece and in less than a week we'll have it twelve feet," said Jon Lash, director of the institute's Digital Atelier division. "Then they'll come in and do the final manipulation of the surface."

    and then again, you could pose and give her something to keep her company while you are away... perhaps with some editing, but you don't want her to prefer it to the real thing, do you?

  • So when can I have my very own first stone henge then?
  • Okay, so I tried to find a website for this Studio Roc place, and simply can't. Anyone have any suggestions?

    Aside from that, I think this is really great. For the last seventy or so years, new buildings have been devoid of the beautiful, distinguishing sculptures that used to adorn every building out there--the columnades, the lions heads, the leafy designs, all that stuff that you only find on/around the ritziest places now. Hopefully we can get back to having architecture that's creative and beautiful ra
    • actually, if you're in the boston area already, you can see a lot of the columnades, etc. on a large number of buildings. many of the buildings, not just the ritzier ones, in the city proper are old enough that they still have these features.

      as for the stata center, well, it's definitely unique. and i don't think it's entirely without aesthetic appeal. however, the fact that it abandons almost all sense of function for the questionable form certainly disgusts me.

      personally, i think this will lead mor

      • Oh, I definitely agree that there's plenty of great stonework here, NY, Philly, etc. (not to mention Europe), but it's beauty is not a part of our lives, it's something that has to be looked at as a thing of the past. Moreover, we spend shitloads of money maintaining the old stuff because the typical thinking is that it can never be replicated, which simply may not be true anymore.

        I mean, I can see the garden gnomes, but I can also see every new office building being built with beautiful sculptured sides,
  • DIY (Score:2, Informative)

    by Coupons ( 793098 )

    This is lovely, but beyond the means of the average /.er.

    With a little ingenuity and, say, $100,000 you can build your own and save a bundle.

    McRae and Sons Inc. [], the last US paint brush handle factory, builds their own 4 axis 3D wood carving machines for considerably less. The same principles can be applied to carving stone.

    McRae's machines rely on Actek Inc. [] motion controllers, though manufacturers abound. You might be surprised how many are amenable to working with amatures.

    Check eBay - no kiddi

    • Re:DIY (Score:4, Informative)

      by Solder Fumes ( 797270 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:09AM (#9779000)
      CNC can be had for much, much cheaper than $100,000. I built my own little CNC machine [] (bottom of page) from scratch for less than $250. That's not going to mill stone (very fast, anyway) but you can get a full-size Bridgeport or some Japanese mill for under $2,000 in some cases. For another $1,000 or less, and using the mill to build its own parts, you can retrofit the Bridgeport with servo or stepper drives [], and use an obsolete desktop computer to control it using free [] software []. Shops also turn over equipment like CNC machines pretty often, in order to keep up with everyone else. An expensive machine pays for itself many times over before it becomes obsolete. You may be able to find an older CNC mill, ready to run, for less than $5,000. I happen to know of one that, if I ever get the space, could be had for under $2,000. For all the information you need, try the CAD CAM EDM DRO Yahoo Group [].
    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )
      More information for you....

      here [] is a great place to start.

      the bulk of the cost for a CNC milling machine is the computer and software to run it.

      the above link removes that... now you can retrofit a dirt cheap CNC mechanical system that the controller was stripped out of.
  • Wonder when angelina jolie has a day off to go there ;-)
    As I'm not expecting her to come here :-(

  • by VernonNemitz ( 581327 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:01AM (#9778928) Journal
    Oh, boy! Now we can start preserving all of today's data in really long-lasting form! They should start with instructions of how to build and program one of these machines!
  • If you could scale down models it would be fantastic. Just imagine the heights of tackyness that could be reached in gardens all over the world!
  • "The comments this is getting suggest to me that too many people nowadays don't have a clue about manufacturing - and we in the West will surely regret this one day."

    Why will we regret having no manufacturing skills?
    After all, none of the highly-skilled manufacturing *jobs* will be *here* anyhow.
  • is anyone else getting visions of the diamond age off of this? that would be rad. :)
  • Maybe I can use it to carve my name upon my ex-girlfriend's heart. She left me after 3 years. She said I spend too much time in front of a computer. She wouldn't open the electronic cards I sent her. She's blocked me on AIM. My emails are bouncing. I cannot even ping her anymore. Oh Joyce, forgive me.
  • Something that copies Scissors and we'll be set!

  • 3D printing in stone?

    They've had that for a while! []

  • Duplicating sculptures by methods other than carving directly into stone is nothing new - and milling machines are certainly not a new technology either.

    Even Rodin quite often started his work in clay. He sent the original plaster to a person who used a pointing machine invented by Nicolas Gatteaux to do the rudimentary stone carving.

    As for milling machines, they have been around forever and come in all sizes and work with all kinds of materials. This one is really good, and the CNC software runs on Lin
  • []

    You pretty much send them a CAD drawing or work with them to produce one and they just create it for you using several different methods.

    A couple of the methods even produce something wood-like (paper actually) or metal.
  • If you ever trade plans for famous stone monuments on P2P, the Stonecutters might sue you!

    Come to think of it though, it would be kind of funny to see them show up in robes in court and have the judge address them as, "Number 26" and so on and so forth.

  • by CoffeeDregs ( 539143 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @11:23AM (#9780485)

    Also check out: - uses lasers to make small fractures in glass; - uses metal powder to create arbitrary 3D forms; - artist who uses the above forms;

    Note: I've used PrecisionLaserArt for some artwork and had a good experience, so I'm biased...
  • This is old news AFAIK... I've got a ceramic crown that was created in a machine sitting next to me while I waited. Pretty cool and a practical use of the existing technology. Cerec_PatientInfo
  • I sincerely hope that someone takes the next step and makes this available to the home user. You upload your 3D model, they mill it and send it to you. Maybe that's already possible, but I can't RTFA right now, unfortunately. How much does one of these fancy-schmancy diamond mill machines cost, anyway? How many sculptures do I need to sell before it pays for itself?

"Freedom is still the most radical idea of all." -- Nathaniel Branden