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How CNC Routers Can Move Mountains

Thanks to 3D printing algorithms and CNC routers, it is possible to replicate the world’s highest peaks

CNC routers Alps scene by Canadastock (via Shutterstock).

“The hills are alive, with the Sound of…” CNC Routers. Thanks to state-of-the-art technology and 3D printing algorithms, climbing walls can now replicate the characteristics of the world’s mountain ranges. Image by Canadastock (via Shutterstock).

Sometimes, the weather may be too warm or inclement for scaling the north face of Knockboy. In these cases, wannabe Chris Bonningtons turn to indoor climbing walls. In most cases, they do not replicate any of the world’s mountain ranges. Thanks to a Dartmouth assistant professor, 3D printing, and CNC routers, this is possible.

After various climbs and studies in the Swiss Alps, Emily Whiting noted the characteristics of the mountains. Hundreds of images allowed for the integration of 3D printing algorithms with CNC routers. With Emily underwhelmed by climbing walls in present day facilities, she said: “What if you could take the experience of climbing places like these monuments but not climb the physical thing, actually bring it home to your local gym.”

Why not? If we can replicate London Heathrow airport on a flight simulator, Emily’s aim is possible. With the right algorithms, it is possible to scale the Rocky Mountains without a visa; or Mam Tor without the rain heading towards you.

Emily’s team made a 3D composition of the wall, all with the correct 3D geometry to mimic the characteristics of a given mountain. Then, the fabricated holds were manufactured and placed in exactly the same places as a climb along (for example) Mont Blanc.

As well as climbing positions, each fabricated hold has the same consistency as the rocks. This, due to the high density film, used by the CNC routers to replicate real life textures.

Stoney CNC, 27 June 2017.

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