How to Make New Rocks

Introduction: How to Make New Rocks

Rocks are formed by compressive, metamorphic, and accumulative processes that take millions to billions of years. With a state of the art neural network, photogrammetry reconstruction and 3D printing, Disk Cactus has developed a new method to make NEW ROCKS in a matter of weeks or months. Follow along!

Step 1: Field Collection by Way of Random Walks

The journey of each New Rock begins in the field. Set out into the world on foot, collecting notable real world specimens along the way. Don't forget a bucket or fanny pack for stashing your haul.

For inspirational rock hounding tips, check out: How to Look at a Rock by Andrew Alden

Step 2: Scan Rocks

Now that you have your specimens, it's time to extract the data. Select the most desirable rocks from your collection to be digitized into a xyz point-cloud format. When taking images with a smart phone or DSLR camera, be sure to capture the surface of the rock from all angles. This will ensure that the photogrammetry software, Remake (it's free!), will generate a high fidelity water-tight mesh.

For digitization of mass collections, consider constructing an affordable DIY 3D Object Scanner (instructable coming soon!) with smartphones, selfie sticks and a rotating timelapse head.

Step 3: Train the Artificial Neural Network

The Artificial Neural network, composed of 500 or so cells, is an algorithm architecturally modeled after neurons in the brain. In the process of training, it mirrors the designer's journey, randomly walking along the surface of the digital rocks' xyz point cloud, but comprehending with a totally non-human logic. After days of training, the AI will learn to reproduce patterns and characteristics to it's liking, and is ready to generate it's own lithic creations.

If you'd like to take a try at training the neural network we've developed with your own datasets, reach us at

Step 4: Curate New Rock Species

Neural networks output in probability distributions, which can be thought of as measures of confidence in any given result it proposes. With New Rocks, playing with this confidence levels yields a vast spectrum of outputs within each new species. Some will have be lumpier, and others craggier. This next step is curatorial: the human designer must accept or reject the models the algorithm proposes to choose desirable New Rocks to enter into physical form.

Step 5: 3D Print Templates and Create Molds

The selected synthetic rock meshes are then processed in a CAD software and extruded as 3D prints from a computer-controlled volcano of sorts, giving solid form to fluid data. These templates are then transferred into silicone, ready for casting of the New Rock forms.

Step 6: Cast the New Rocks

Use a rotomolder to slowly rotate the liquid cement inside the silicone molds while it cures to achieve a refined form without large superficial bubbles. On its surface, the cast rock will reveal the geological processes and conditions of its creation.

Step 7: Machine (or Manual) Accelerated Weathering

The immaculate, freshly cured rock can be immediately weathered, or left to rest for several days or months before processing for varying fragmentation patterns. Use a multiplying machine like a "Rock Hammer" to frack, smash, compress and reveal new internal compositions.

Step 8: Re-insert New Rocks Into the Landscape

The New Rock creation process is now complete. Collect the fragments of weathered rocks and venture back outdoors. Study the physical landscape around you. Distribute the New Rocks to begin the final stage of the journey, where the tides, the sun, and the many life forms will continue to refine the forms over time.

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    6 years ago

    The video is so good in explaining the whole process, as well as the thoughts behind


    6 years ago

    This is great! Well written and fun


    6 years ago

    What a nice ibble. Congrats