3D printed instruments are not a new thing. Olaf Diegel has been making them for a while. But most high-quality instruments come with a price tag to match the amount of effort that was put into making it and the small number of instruments that are available.
Matthew Canel, a musician and engineer, wants to change that. Canel is an engineering graduate from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. In a previous life, he spent time learning the cello.
Canel has turned to additive manufacturing to make musical instruments that are of a reasonable quality and are more affordable for students.
You can buy FDM printed violins for as little as $200 from his 3DMusic website.
Two printed violins, just chillin on a bench. (Image credit: 3D Music LLC)
That may sound like a lot of money to pay for a 3D-printed guitar, but you're not just paying for the printer time. You're also paying for the design work that has been done with help from professional luthiers. If you tried to print out a guitar on your own, it probably wouldn't sound all that great.
After 3DMusic's efforts, they have created a violin that is said to sound like a wooden instrument or an instrument in a higher price bracket.
“You can buy a wooden violin for up to $1 million. So, there is a huge range…the cheapest violins I’ve found on AliExpress are to $69 plus shipping, and their sound quality is what a $69 violin would sound like,” said Ben Kaufman, who works on Business Development at 3DMusic.
“We’re trying to get the sound quality of a $300 to $400 violin and then come in under their price.”
The company was formed a few years ago, and they showcased their prototype at the CES 2020 exhibition. They've had a stall at CES each year since then too.
CES booth (Image credit: 3D Music LLC)
As you can see in the picture, the violins have been printed using a 3D printer. This likely helps to keep the costs down, which is in line with the company's vision for providing pocket-friendly violins.
It is a long way to print a violin from printing a cello. We may not see big instruments printed with tonal qualities in the near future. It is still hard to print big things out of plastic with commonly available printers.
However, these printed violins are a good step in the right direction. With traditional luthiery methods, modern materials and even simulation methods, the prospect of building a high quality instrument out of plastic doesn't seem too far away.
You can take a look at the ¼ size printed violins on offer over at the 3DMusic website, right here.