At TED Amsterdam, Joanna Wronko, a violin soloist, chamber musician and a guest player in top european orchestras, was required to compare a pair of violins. One is a 3D printed violin made on a professional 3D printer, and the other is a classic instrument.
Image: TED Amsterdam
Unfortunately the sound of 3D printed violin is boring and painfully sharp to the ear. And the instrument is heavier than a normal violin to play. At present a 3D printed violin is more a proof of concept for what can be done with a 3D Printer. It will not outstrip the efforts of the talented craftsman who build violins, and it needs tons of improvement in order to meet the requirements for classical music, says Joanna. At best, if one day the production cost can get down, 3D printed violins could serve as nice, easily replaceable practice instruments for beginners.
Posted in 3D Printing
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Brandon Swanson- Violin Luthier/ Electrical & Computer Engineer wrote at 2/22/2015 8:23:58 PM:
I can sympathize with modern people about the ability to customize and changing the design of the 3d print in order to produce better acoustics. But, one factor that a lot of people disregard is the history of violin making. It is not just some random design from the 1800s. It is an ingenious mathematical geometric invention that has been fine tuned since the 1500's. And the skill required to make one allows a wide variety of techniques in order to shape the wood. Luthiers are not limited in their ability to work the materials. Before speculating about what can be done inside an acoustic instrument people need to fully understand the acoustical workings that generate sound in the violin. One the other hand, there is a lot of things such as baffles that can be done to increase the projection and resonance of the 3D printed violin and we should not write it off. I just wouldn't get my hopes up that a 3D printed instrument will be chosen over a classical instrument or even one made by a modern day luthier.
Lord Binky wrote at 11/13/2013 10:50:22 PM:
There are many things that can be done to the 3D printed violin to improve it's sound. I don't expect a plastic 3D replica of a master quality wood violin to sound the same. You can compensate material differences and the control of the material could allow you to surpass certain characteristics of a traditional violin though. There are so many things that can be done inside the cavity that would be impossible for hand crafted piece, so why limit your design to what can be done by hand crafting? This shows straight copying doesn't provide good results, which is to be expected when the material doesn't have superior or more desireable properties to the item's function.
Jeff wrote at 11/11/2013 6:17:48 PM:
Sean, remeber - this is the opinion of a top level classical concert musician with a trained ear. Someone who can probably easily tell the difference between a ordinary violin, a masters hand crafted instrument and a Statavarious. i doubt the run of the mill person could tell them apart on sound alone. For her, or someone at her level, a 3D printed violin may never reach the level where it is as good as a hand crafted one made by a master. That master has spent a lifetime perfecting thier craft and musicians at her level have spent a lifetime perfecting thier craft - around the hand crafterd old world violins. But for us mere mortals, a 3d printed one, especially once refined and "tweaked" to a persons individual physiqe and style of play, might be as good or better.
Art wrote at 11/11/2013 7:08:25 AM:
I'm very interested in this case of what can be done with form factors, tunable baffles and air chambers, placement of mass, additives, etc., to achieve a particular tone. While luthiers are relatively limited in technique and materials as well as adherence to tradition, a "violin" (whether 3d printed, machined, or whatever) could evolve significantly. The ability to go from model to reality in a deterministic fashion will expose a huge amount of flexibility. As 3d printing methods evolve and modelers apply multi-variate aesthetic statistical approaches to refinement, we could see 10-20 iterations per day in the next five years.
anonanon wrote at 11/10/2013 11:07:14 PM:
I agree. A lot of people don't see the degree of customization. Additionally, the process of constructing a violin by hand has evolved over hundreds of years. To have a working product without a lifetime of training is very remarkable. I would imagine that simply tuning the design would allow you to overcome a lot of the shortcomings of the current model.
TK wrote at 11/9/2013 11:12:05 PM:
Yes, to add to previous comment, couldn't the 3d printed violin not be matched to a musician both physically, and musically. By this I mean not just size to fit tall/short or weight for muscular, but instead tuned to make playing pieces or notes possible or even perfect for the musician it was being built for? Think custom fit shoes for sports players enhancing performance, and prosthetics for disabled persons...
Sean Lumly wrote at 11/9/2013 7:39:56 PM:
I love how people state so assertively what 3d printed violins are and "at best" what it will be capable of, based off of this single, early proof-of-concept. This is the beginning, and far from the last refinement of this technology. With new materials, shapes, and the scientific method, I am certain that the acoustic properties of the printed violin can be significantly changed, and it may one day rival the quality of a hand built violin. But for now it is way too early to write off this very early prototype as being forever inferior.