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The Music of 3D Printing

Even with the recent focus on additive manufacturing (AM), we’ve only really scratched the surface of potential applications for 3D printing. Along with the expected rapid prototyping, we’ve seen the technology used for everything from haute couture to food preparation. AM is like having a huge bin of Lego; the process of making objects seems simple, but the end results are myriad.

Now AM has extended its reach into making music. This is one application I don’t think anyone saw coming. A new article on Instructables by Amanda Ghassaei, relays her account of creating a vinyl record using 3D printing.

Vinyl Record

Add some 3D printed vinyls to your collection. Courtesy of Marauder.

Ghassaei used an Objet (company profile) Connex500 to print out the records. The music can be played on normal turntables and has a, “sampling rate of 11kHz (a quarter of typical mp3 audio) and 5-6bit resolution (mp3 audio is 16 bit).” The end result isn’t anything like you’d want to use for dinner parties, but is an impressive bit of design nonetheless.

“I developed a workflow that can convert any audio file, of virtually any format, into a 3D model of a record,” writes Ghassaei. “This is far too complex a task to perform with traditional drafting-style CAD techniques, so I wrote a program to do this conversion automatically.  It works by importing raw audio data, performing some calculations to generate the geometry of a record, and eventually exporting this geometry straight to the STL file format (used by all 3D printers).”

MakerBot has also made a foray into the music industry with its Mixtape application. The Mixtape is 3D printed MP3 player in the form of a cassette tape. By snapping some additional electronic parts (a memory chip and control buttons) into place, users can give the gift of a modern version of the traditional mix tape (assuming you’re old enough to know what I’m talking about).

Below you’ll find a video about the 3D printed record.

Sources: MakerBot, Instructables

About John Newman

John Newman is a contributing editor to Desktop Engineering magazine. He covers the rapid prototyping and manufacturing beat.

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