CNC Milled Digital Sculpts

These are some pieces that I created using ZBrush and Blender(still haven’t mastered the ZModeler brush yet, but I’m working on it). The digital sculpts were CNC milled out of limestone and finished by traditional stone carvers. The two archway pieces are at the two main entrances to Yale University’s two new residential colleges, Pauli Murray College and Benjamin Franklin College. The ornamental architecture pieces were designed for a private residence.

f7.jpgTorah-1.jpgPauli-Digital.jpgBen Franklin Complete.jpgcorbels-3_orig.jpgmain-floral-2_orig.jpgPauli-Stone-1.jpgBull-Dog-Scuppers 2.jpgBen-Digital.jpg




Thanks for sharing those Travis.

The CAM system for the CNC stone cutting machine could accept triangulated files …?

I’ve had some limited contact with manufactures in that industry that indicated they want nurbs files for reasons similar to mold/toolmakers milling steel.

Hi Chris,

Sorry I didn’t see that you’d commented earlier. I’m not quite sure exactly what system the stone company that I work for has besides it just being a 1 directional CNC machine. I’ve used nurbs before but not in this line of work. STL. files seem to work the best(as long as you don’t have any doubles) so I usually dynamesh everything together, then decimate, to insure that it’s all one piece.

Thanks for that info.

I understand if you can’t comment where you work, but I’d like to have specific examples of services that are milling from meshes next time I get someone telling me it can’t be done, or they don’t do that. Perhaps the competition might motivate them into being a bit more receptive.

I am facing a situation where the people that operate the CNC software tell me that obj and stl are not correct files for cnc milling. They can use the file but they say its not as easy to manipulate. Has anyone experience with this?


Simon, this depends on the software that makes the toolpaths (CADCAM) for the CNC machine. The service you are mentioning probably wants a nurbs (CAD) file instead of a mesh.

If the nurbs file is the issue, its possible to convert a mesh to nurbs, but the conversion is not exact, and can destroy or excessively smooth fine detail. Depending on your model and detail, this might not be a problem.

You will probably have to pay for this service because there are not many quality free options.