Jan.15, 2014

Left Field Labs' Music Drop is an integration of design of traditional music box and modern 3D printing technology. "We wanted to recreate the playfulness of a music box with a custom element." says Left Field Labs. It lets you design and create your own music box through a simple web interface. You just have to create a song loop and Left Field Labs will print out a music box that plays your tune.

Since the 18th century, people have embraced the charm of the music box – a compact music player originally built on the mechanics and tradition of artisan watchmaking. Seemingly antiquated but somehow timeless, we especially loved this handheld application of the technologies of the time, all in an effort to create a very human moment of delight. We are all about using technology to help humans be, well, more human, and so we updated this small device with some of the emerging technologies of our time. We wanted to create a modern day adaptation to put tech and cheer right in your hand.

To get started, Left Field Labs broke down a few "Amazing Grace" music boxes to understand the physical mechanics. With a Makerbot 3D printer, they quickly figured out the inner mechanics through speedy prototyping. Then they began designing the outer shell in consideration of the constraints of the 3D printer. They created a shell that was sturdy enough to resonate, and shaped to amplify the volume. The final design is partially open so you are able to see the custom disk and gears in action.

Then it was the time to create an interface for people to easily create they own tune, customize the color of their individual Music Drop. Given the cyclical nature of a music box song, Left Field Labs decided that a step sequencer would provide a simple and fast way to allow people to create music. They chose to use HTML5 audio in order to work with the audio directly in javascript, making the tool quick and lightweight. After some quick prototyping, the team determined that creating a model of the music drop in WebGL offered them a few distinct advantages. The main benefit was that they could programmatically alter the geometry of the disc as the user creates their song, and then take that geometry and write it out to a .stl file, readable by the 3D printer.

Each Music Drop is 3D printed and assembled by hand at Left Field Labs and then shipped to you. So if you like to have your very own Music Drop you may want to start with creating a tune here.


Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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