Dec 23, 2015 | By Kira

We have seen quite a few 3D printed musical instruments in the past, including 3D printed guitars and 3D printed violins that are able to recreate the sounds of professional and even classical equipment despite being made from completely non-classical means. However, in what appears to be a world first, we are now seeing a complete symphony orchestra that has been recreated in miniature thanks to 3D printing.

Created by the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in Phoenix, Arizona, the miniature (1/12 scale) 3D printed orchestra uses state-of-the-art technology, including 3D scanning, 3D printing, and audio-visual performances, to deliver a multisensory experience that reveals the sights and sounds of a modern symphony orchestra to visitors of all ages and musical backgrounds.

In order to create this one-of-a-kind 3D printed orchestra, MIM called on several London-based musicians, many of whom are members of the prestigious London City Orchestra. They then went to my3Dtwin, a 3D scanning and 3D printing studio in London that specializes in recreating 3D printed human figurines. My3Dtwin began by photographing each individual musician along with their instruments in a special 360-degree photo booth. Using photogrammetry, the resulting photographs were transformed into 3D data, scaled down to 1/12 scale, and then 3D printed in full color in plaster-of-paris.

Thanks to the 360-degree photographing and 3D printing, each musician’s miniature ‘twin’ was recreated in great detail, and no two figurines are alike. They were then arranged just as they would be in a real orchestral performance, and the entire 3D printed orchestra was placed atop an 84-inch monitor, now on display at the MIM’s Europe Gallery.

As part of the multi-sensory, educational experience, the display monitor lights up as audio of each instrument plays so that visitors can understand through audio and visual cues the major sections of the orchestra. As the MIM explains, “Over the course of four minutes, guests are taken on a journey around the orchestra, hearing audio excerpts from standard orchestral works. In this way, the display illustrates the number and variety of instruments, their character and sound, how they are held, how the orchestra is configured, and what the performers wear.” Though many of us have never had the chance to see a true orchestral performance in real life, the MIM’s 3D printed, multisensory exhibit might just be the next best thing.

Recreating a complete miniature symphony orchestra had been a work in progress for the MIM for several years, however it was the level of detail and accuracy afforded by 3D printing technology that finally gave them the means to enable their vision. Indeed, considering the miniature size of each musician--sitting viola players measure roughly 4.5 inches high, while a standing bass player, for example, is up to 6 inches--no detail when unnoticed, right down to the piano player's sheet music.

The MIM displays more than 6,500 instruments collected from all over the world, and uses state-of-the-art audio and video technologies to allow visitors to see how they are played, hear their sounds, and learn their histories—this latest 3D printed orchestra being just one example of how their technologically-enhanced displays can bring musical instruments, history, and tradition to life.

And if you love music don't have the means to 3D print an entire orchestra? Then check out this clever and functional 3D printed one-man-band from Thingiverse.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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