3D Scanned, CNC-Milled, Pumpkin Selfie

When you have a CNC mill sitting around, it almost seems anachronistic to pull out a kitchen knife to carve a pumpkin. You can hardly blame [Nathan Bentall] for choosing an endmill instead. If you’re feeling the same, check out his blog post where [Nathan] works through all the steps involved in going from a raw pumpkin to a 3D RGB LED bust of himself. To put his head on the pumpkin’s shoulders he captured a depth map using a Kinect and then got down to some unorthodox milling.

If you’d like to watch the CNC in action, [Nathan] has also posted up a time-lapse video of the work getting done. Watch the intro, and then jump ahead to 12:40 when the CNC work starts up for real.


One of our first questions was “how do you hold that thing in the mill?” Pumpkins are big and round, not flat and thin. Amazingly, the answer is just what you’d expect: it’s all held together with tape. Specifically, a saucepan stuck to the bed with double-stick tape cradles the pumpkin which is taped down into the saucepan with gaffer tape.

And it all looks fairly clean, too. We would have expected pumpkin mush all over everything, but it seems to have stayed quasi-contained. Who knew? Kudos for the great work and great documentation!

11 thoughts on “3D Scanned, CNC-Milled, Pumpkin Selfie

  1. Very Cool.
    Since the pumpkin is basically a display and displays use gamma correction so compensate for the human eye and light levels…and the relation between light levels and pumpkin depth isn’t linear, I wonder how hard it would be to square the image depth to more closely match the image brightness?

  2. When illuminated from the inside, thicker sections of pumpkin attenuate light more, creating dark regions. So you get the light eye sockets/dark nose. If you want to make the image work while back illuminated, you need to invert the whole process.

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