The beauty of music is often associated with handcrafted instruments made by experienced individuals accustomed with the craft and fine art of stringing. But as a couple tests have recently revealed, even highly trained ears have difficulty differentiating between violins crafted by famous artisans and more affordable mass produced ones. I can hear you asking, well why not just 3D print instruments? As it turns out, several digital artists and musicians have done just that. There are enough 3D printed instruments to equip a whole band and send them on a tour. Have a look:
The Steampunk guitar comes from the mind of Olaf Diegel, who also has customizable guitars on Cubify. Below are his Atom and Spider designs.
And it’s not just electric guitars getting the 3D printed makeovers; Scott Summit designed a printable acoustic guitar and had it produced by 3D Systems. He thought it would break under the pressure of stringing, but was pleasantly surprised by the warm, rich tone. Now, he sees promise in affecting the tone and acoustics through printing various internal cavities.
Of course the printing of a “Stradivarius” violin is my favorite printed instrument. Listen to how good it sounds!
Amit Zoran designed this functional flute at MIT Media Lab. It’s not perfect, but it’s proof of concept. The Shakuhachi Flute below is more functional and available for purchase through Shapeways.
This trumpet doesn’t sound so shabby either.
And mouthpieces can be printed for any brass instrument, as well as for woodwinds.
Olaf Diegel also designed a printable keyboard and drum set to complete the band. And this music box is customizable to play any tune.
The 3D printer itself
If you’d rather not print an instrument, just use the 3D printer itself as an instrument by controlling the speed of the stepper motors!