Back in August, Instructables user fred27 made a tutorial on 3D printing records for a Fisher Price toy record player. He test printed records on both DIY 3D printer and professional 3D printer, and all 3D printed discs played well - that was definitely a brilliant project demonstrating what 3D printing is capable to do.
Amanda Ghassaei, assistant tech editor at Instructables went a step further: she has been trying to print LP records on a professional 3D printer.
She wrote an program to convert digital audio file into a 3D model of a record 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. Most of the heavy lifting is done by Processing, an open source environment that's often used for coding interactive graphics applications. To get Processing to export to STL, I used the ModelBuilder Library written by Marius Watz (if you are into Arduino/Processing and 3D printing I highly recommend checking this out, it works great). "
Then she printed the record on an Objet Connex 500 printer with its highest X & Y resolution 600dpi and 16-micron print layer accuracy. But it's still far lower resolution than on a vinyl LP, by a factor of 10.
(image credit: Amanda Ghassaei)
The record was printed in Objet's Vero Clear material, this material is a fairly hard, clear resin. All of the 3D prints are only about a minute long - this was due to some issues with file size and RAM. "My hope with this project was that despite the lack of vinyl-quality precision, I would still be able to produce something recognizable by approximating the groove shape as accurately as possible with the tools I had." noted Ghassaei.
And here is the result: "These records play on regular turntables, with regular needles, at regular speeds, just like any vinyl record. Though the audio on the records has a sampling rate of 11kHz (a quarter of typical mp3 audio) and 5-6bit resolution (mp3 audio is 16 bit), it is still easily recognizable."
If you listen to the sound in the videos below you will probably agree, it is just recognizable. But this is not the point. "It's really stripped down, it's down to the bare essentials," she says. "It's never going to be as good as vinyl. It's not really set up for that. But it's cool because you can really be creative with it." This is a very nice experiment showing what 3D printer can and what the limit is. 3D printer will literally print anything, but to achieve that we still have a long way to go.
You can find her Processing code, record downloads, and more information on Instructables.
Posted in 3D Printing Applications
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