Team Aperture: 3D CNC Light Painting Machine

Welcome to Team Aperture's project page. Here you will find a brief description of our project, and what went into its creation.

We started with a mission: To bring together the wide variety of interests and skills within our group and create a machine, that is very cool itself, that uses light and long exposure photography to create a beautiful product that shows the intersection between art and engineering. #nofilter. 

We decided the best way to fulfill our mission was to create a 3D computer numerically controlled (CNC) light painting machine.

This project and page are works in progress. Here is some of what we have so far:


This is the Makerbot Cupcake 3D printer that we started prototyping with. It was originally built by Trevor, but it apparently stopped working and was left unused until we repurposed it. We used the existing X and Y axes, and built or own Z axis out of the darker brown masonite seen in the picture.



This was an early long exposure photograph of an octahedron made with the prototype above.



Another picture made with the prototype.



This picture and the following are made with the prototype that we designed and laser cut ourselves. This is meant to be a camera aperture.



This picture demonstrates red, green, and blue color mixing. The top is red (just red), the vertical edges are orange (red and some green), and the bottom is green (just green).



Here, Ed Moriarty "holds" the MIT logo being painted by our machine.


There is a lot of code used in this project. The final version uses python to parse .dxf files for lines and polylines, then send those to micro-controllers that relay the commands to the stepper motors that move the LED. The actual code can be found here.


Speaking of the final version of the light painter (Note: this will likely be continued after the Engineering Design Workshop ends, and this might not be the final version) the following pictures are some of the first long exposures we took with it:

Another MIT logo with a Coke bottle for scale

Another (crisper) aperture

A helix (side view)

A saddle function