Introduction: CNC Carved Water Surface

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The process of creating water surfaces in clear acrylic.

Step 1: Deploy Drone to Location and Collect Images

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Deploy a drone running ArduPilot software to a fixed location to hover 30 meters above the water. Orient the attached camera to point downward and capture still images of the water’s surface. For the series the drone was deployed to the same location on different days and in different weather conditions.

Step 2: Convert Images to Bump Map

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Using crazybump convert the still image of the water surface into displacement height map.

Step 3: Import Height Map Into Blender

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Using this process, import the displacement height map into Blender and follow the steps to convert into a three-dimensional STL file.

Step 4: CNC Toolpath

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Create CNC toolpath from the STL file using ARTCAM.

Step 5: CNC Machining

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The 3D models are CNC carved into a series of clear acrylic cylinders.

Step 6: Finished

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This process captured the dynamic movements of the waves and ripples from a specific time and location and suspended the ever-changing water patterns into a static transparent form. More information can be found at


seadraggin (author)2017-11-08

Just stumbled across this. Very cool work. Do you sell them?

mach1950 (author)2016-08-23

Very nice. Very very nice. Your website is an intriguing place to visit; I promptly bookmarked it. Some wonderful installations from a very creative mind.

Benne (author)2016-08-22

Wow awesome! Didn't think I would ever see a project that combines drones and CNC machines in this way!

DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)2016-08-21

Very cool. If you try mapping out other types of terrain, I hope you will post that also.

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