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Would a 3D-printed instrument sound good?

It may be possible to use 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, to create a musical instrument that could compete with the sound of a normal wooden instrument.

Asked by: Lizzie Alton, Glasgow

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There is no reason you can’t 3D print a musical instrument.

Cheap violins have been made out of plastic for years, and 3D printing is just a handy way of assembling them. An electric violin converts the string vibrations into an electrical signal, so it doesn’t depend on the acoustic properties of the resonating chamber.

A 3D-printed trumpet might also work well, but an acoustic violin made of plastic can’t compete with a Stradivarius yet. The complex grain structure of the wood creates subtle resonances and harmonics that we can’t recreate with the resolution of current 3D printers.


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