3D printing and music

Tinkering / improving /stunning art ?

Most people today will have heard of 3D printers but most of the time it is still a mystical thing, attached to expectations from 3D printed organs to “be happy when you get a straight cube!”. Since I bought one of these mystical machines a few years ago I stumbled across some really impressing, impossible and ingenious ideas connecting the art of precisely melting plastic with the art of producing and controlling air pressure waves.

A very good project in general is to create a personal MIDI controller. This introduces the creator to basic coding, designing and using the printer to combine all the parts.
When people get crazy with this, artist like Onyx Ashanti are born, an inventor and musician that built his own interface for live performances and experiments. The whole body is used to create control signals for software. While this is not directly an instrument or an acoustic device, it would be far more difficult to create a personalized controller like this without the help of a 3D printer.
Onyx Ashanti at “Tedx Talks” Berlin

Ashanti with his controllers in action. (imagesource)

Replicating rare and unique musical parts

One very reasonable way to us e a 3D printer is to create parts for existing, well designed objects, like in this case old an unique instruments. Scientists try to replicate the shape and sound of the original instrument as precise as possible in order to make it playable without destroying important parts.
3-D Printing Antique Musical Instruments (Parts & Replicas)

3D printing whole instruments
If this is not satisfying enough for you, take a look at Olaf Diegel and his Youtube channel. Need a new Alto saxophone but you do not want to buy it? There you go! Olaf Diegels 3D printed Alto saxophone

3Dvarius electric violin
The 3DVarius (imagesource)

3DVarius is a company the designs and prints electric violins for normal and special needs. These look quite fragile, especially when thinking of the tension of the strings but they are complete instruments that sound and especially look amazing. See the Printed violines in action.

3D printing speakers

Speakers are indispensable for music and many people have started to build their own speakers from scratch decades ago, when 3D printers weren’t even born. However, a 3D printer makes it possible to create complex shapes and manufacture them precisely without having a whole wood or metal workshop in the basement. The amount of knowledge gained by tinkering around with designs, materials, stiffness, different speaker modules etc. can not be assessed. Furthermore, if done right they sound really good. If you are interested in some more work with speakers, check out HexiBase’s Youtube channel where he built quite a few of them.