How are cross-sections of real objects made?

I always love those cross-sections that people make of products by cutting an actual example in half. I just came across this amazing cross-section of a Leica Lens, and I’m trying to work out how it was pulled off:

My theory is that they took a rough cut with extra material left over (maybe cutting each component individually?), glued all the parts together, and then ground the face down to exactly half way. Which would mean that the photo above is actually two different lenses. Anyone know the actual answer?

The photo shows two angles of the same side half.

The burrs on the edges of the lens (assuming plastic lenses) are a clue. Could have taken the whole lens to a wet belt sanding machine and worn away half.

For all metal objects, wire EDM will make a clean cross section cut. Waterjets, saw, grinding, milling machines for multiple depth cross sections like in car engines.

I also thought the Modernist Cuisine books did a great job doing action cutaways.

Bit on the process

Depends on the material, but there are companies that specialize in cutting things in half for sales demonstrations.

i have used these guys,


Is it expensive? or is it all dependent on material complexity and so fourth.

It does depend on 2 things.

What you are cutting.
What your definition of expensive is.

Give them a call, they will be happy to quote any job for free.

I love that the Modernist Cuisine cutaways still managed to keep a degree of functionality in the object they cut. At first I figured the boiling liquid was just some solid gel substitute.