Music of bronze-age and 3D printing

The music of bronze-age Celts revealed through 3D printing

A bronze artefact previously thought to have been the butt of a spear has been revealed to be the mouthpiece of an ancient horn.

Primitive music may not have been so primitive after all, as discovered by an archaeologist and Ph.D. candidate at the Australian National University College of Asia-Pacific. Billy Ó Foghlú, who believed that the bronze- and iron-age musical horns found in Ireland must have had mouthpieces, has 3D printed an object that vastly improves the sound of the instruments.

His research has been published in the ancient Celtic culture journal Emania.

The model for the mouthpiece, however, was something quite unexpected: a bronze artefact dating back to 100BC to 200AD called the Conical Spearbutt of Navan. Found in the early 20th century, the artefact (as the name suggests) was thought to have been mounted on the butt of a spear.

3D printing technology has been improving at a rapid pace in the past few years. While it has primarily been used for the manufacture of custom designed objects, it’s increasingly seeing use in the fields of paleontology and archaeology as a means of studying objects without damaging the fragile original artefacts. It’s also allowing museums to create replicas of artefacts that can be handled by the public.

In this case, the object wasn’t printed directly, but cast in a 3D printed mould. Using the exact measurements of the so-called Spearbutt, Ó Foghlú created a 3D model, which he then used 3D print the mould and cast the replica in bronze. He also created a 3D printed replica of a horn over two metres long, copying the thickness of the metal of the original object. He then put the two together and blew.

“Suddenly the instrument came to life,” he said in a statement.

“These horns were not just hunting horns or noisemakers. They were very carefully constructed and repaired, they were played for hours. Music clearly had a very significant role in the culture.”

The artefact would likely have been misclassified because it was excavated separately to the horns. Many iron- and bronze-age horns were discovered across Europe and Scandinavia, but very few mouthpieces were found in Ireland. This led to the impression that music in Ireland had regressed.

However, Ó Foghlú believes that so few mouthpieces were found with horns because they may have been ritually dismantled and separated when the horn’s owner died.

“A number of instruments have been found buried in bogs. The ritual killing of an instrument and depositing it in a burial site shows the full significance of it in the culture,” he said.

“Tutankhamen also had trumpets buried with him in Egypt. Contemporary horns were also buried in Scandinavia, Scotland and mainland Europe: They all had integral mouthpieces too.”

by  | September 1, 2015 7:47 PM PDT


3Dvarius debuts – check it!

French violinist Laurent Bernadac spent years designing 3Dvarius, billed as the first playable, 3D-printed violin. Its streamlined design was inspired by the classical world's much-coveted Stradivarius violins.

3Dvarius debuts as first fully playable 3D-printed violin

French violinist spent years designing futuristic, minimalist instrument.

A Stradivarius violin is considered one of the world’s most coveted classical instruments, but amateur musicians could soon be jamming on homemade Strads.

French violinist Laurent Bernadac has unveiled 3Dvarius, billed as the first fully playable 3D-printed violin.

The translucent creation is inspired by the much-coveted instruments created by Italian master Antonio Stradivari in his legendary Cremona shop in the 17th century.

However, the design was then stripped down to be as lightweight as possible and allow for extreme freedom of movement for contemporary musicians.

The 3Dvarius is essentially an electric violin and uses a magnetic pickup to detect the vibrations made by the strings and must be plugged into an amplifier.

Produced as a single piece using stereolithography – a 3D technology that prints models one layer at a time by rapidly curing a liquid polymer using UV lasers – the model had to be strong enough to withstand the tension and pressure of violin strings, which also have to be tuneable.

Bernadac revealed one of the first successful prototypes, nicknamed Pauline, in videos released this month.

The musician, whose high-energy performances blend the traditionally classical instrument with guitar, the cajon percussion box and other sounds, has spent the past few years designing the futuristic-looking 3Dvarius.


First 3D printed pill

Pink Pills

The first 3D-printed pill opens up a world of downloadable medicine

Now that the US has approved a 3D-printed drug, pharmaceuticals companies in the UK are hoping their patents will be next – from the pyramid-shaped pill-makers to the man who has done for drugs what Apple did for music.

With architects printing lumpy plastic houses, fashion designers printing oddly-shaped dresses and food companies printing dodgy-looking hamburgers, the hype around 3D printing can often seem like a novelty. But news that the world’s first 3D-printed drug has just been approved suggests that, beyond the realm of personalised plastic trinkets, the technology still has a huge amount to offer.

Developed by Ohio-based pharmaceutical company Aprecia, Spritam levetiracetam is a new drug to control seizures brought on by epilepsy. Approved by the US Food and Drug Administration this week, it employs the company’s trademark “ZipDose” technology, which uses 3D printing to create a more porous pill. Its structure means the pill dissolves more quickly on contact with liquid, making it much easier to swallow high doses than a conventional tablet.

The 3D printing process also allows layers of medication to be packaged more tightly in precise dosages, and it points to a future of more personalised medicine. 3D-printed pills could be custom-ordered, based on specific patient needs, rather than on a one-drug-fits-all approach.

“For the last 50 years, we have manufactured tablets in factories and shipped them to hospitals,” said Dr Mohamed Albed Alhnan, a lecturer in pharmaceutics at the University of Central Lancashire. “For the first time, this process means we can produce tablets much closer to the patient.” By making slight adjustments to the software before printing, hospitals could adjust doses for individual patients, a process of personalisation that is otherwise prohibitively expensive.

The porous pill technology could also have important benefits for other drugs, according to Marvin Rorick, a neurologist at Riverhills Neuroscience in Cincinnati. “In my experience, patients and caregivers often have difficulty following a treatment regimen,” he said. “Whether they are dealing with a swallowing disorder or the daily struggle of getting a child to take his or her medication, adherence can be a challenge. Especially for children and seniors, having an option for patients to take their medication as prescribed is important to managing this disease.”

While 3D printing has already been embraced in other medical fields – from printing new jawbones in facial reconstruction to custom-shaped teeth and other dental implants, as well as producing personalised prosthetics – this is the first time the technology has been approved for the production of drugs; and it won’t be the last time.

Researchers at the School of Pharmacy of University College London have been developing a technique to 3D-print pills in different shapes, from pyramids to doughnuts, using a technique known as “hot melt extrusion”. The different forms, which would be hard to manufacture using standard production techniques, release drugs at different rates. Their research has found that the rate of drug release is dependent not on surface area, but on the surface area-to-volume ratio. A pyramid-shaped pill, for example, releases a drug slower than a cube or a sphere, allowing absorption to be controlled.

While the Spritam pill similarly uses 3D printing primarily to change the physical structure of the pill, other researchers have been working on how the technology could be used to develop new drugs at a molecular level. Professor Lee Cronin at Glasgow University has been working on a “chemputer”, a sort of 3D-printing chemistry set, which can be programmed to make chemical reactions and produce different molecules. Describing the process as similar to what Apple did for music, he envisages a world where patients will be able to download the “recipes” for drugs and print them at home. In the future, he suggests, we won’t be buying drugs, so much as blueprints or apps.

by  | Wednesday 5 August 2015

The future of music

3D Printed Violin Looks Like the Future of Music

It doesn’t irk me that one cannot applaud at the symphony until the end of the movement as much as it irks me that this symphonic norm was established in the late 1880s.

I think it’s time the symphony unstuffed its shirt and got a little jolt from the future.

New Da Vinci Instrument Unveiled

Just feast your eyes on this gorgeous two-string Piezoelectric Violin from architects Eric Goldemberg and Veronica Zalcberg of Miami’s MONAD studio.

They created it with multi-instrumentalist Scott F Hall for a musical exhibition next month at New York City’s Javits Center for the Inside 3D Printing conference.

In an interview with BBC, Goldemberg told reporter Clemency Burton-Hill that the violin preserves the functionality and ergonomics of the classic violin, but has a character all its own thanks to the materials and methods in which it was formed.

Old Or New Violin? Musicians Can’t Tell

“Consider the tonality of classical guitar against that of the Les Paul electric guitar: they do sound the same in a sense, yet also quite different,” Goldemberg said.

The violin will be exhibited with other extreme interpretations of classic instruments, including a hornucopia, which is their take on the cello.

“Innovation in instrument design is a balancing act of paying homage to history and tradition while at the same time looking forward boldly into the future,” Goldemberg said.

I hope that after the group has finished playing, the audience will be allowed to clap.

by TRACY STAEDTER | MAR 30, 2015 04:54 PM ET

Top 10 3D printing ventures in pictures

Brush Up on Your 3D Printing Knowledge! Here’s a Quick Look at 2014’s Top 10 3D Printing Ventures in Pictures.

In 2014, 3D printing burst onto the scene in fields ranging from medicine to music. Here’s a look back at the best projects in 10 categories.


Certainly the most noble applications of 3D printing came from the world of medical science this year. Because of its ability to produce parts as unique as our own bodies, the technology has enormous potential in this field. In 2014 alone we saw the first step toward a 3D-printed bionic eyeand the development of a 3D-printed airway splint that is now helping a baby breathe by keeping his airways — which were prone to collapsing — open. It was also the year in which exact replicas of a patient’s brain tumor and heartwere made so that surgeons could practice on them before performing real surgeries.

Our winner in this category, though, goes to the woman who received an entire 3D-printed skull back in March to relieve pressure from her swelling brain. The operation was a success, and the woman was back at work shortly after it was completed.

Speaking of implants, we were also wowed by the 3D-printed face implants that recently got approval from the FDA. Called the OsteoFab Patient-Specific Facial Device, the implants truly highlight the customizability of 3D printing, as they can replicate the exact bone structure underlying that most distinct feature we all possess – our face.


While not as serious as the medical applications of 3D printing, we did see the technology get put to recreational use in some fields in 2014. There was a nearly indestructible ping pong ball, a 3D-printed chess set and even a 3D-printed version of Cyvasse, the table game from “Game of Thrones.” There was also this awesome 3D-printed kayak, which is the winner of this category because, well, it’s a kayak!


Food is about to get a lot more fun as 3D printers work their way into both professional and home kitchens. The most fun application of the technology to food we saw this past year comes from a group of MIT students who developed a machine that could 3D-print ice cream. Yup, ice cream.

Other contenders in this category include mini 3D-printed sculptures made from sugar, a 3D printer that spits out “fruit” and the promise that someday we’ll be able to 3D-print pasta in any shape we want. There’s also this super-cool open-source printer that can make pancakes in pretty much any design you can dream up.

Although not actually made of something edible, another invention that needs to be mentioned in this category is the 3D-printed doodad that helps eliminate that watery squirt of ketchup that has plagued mankind since the tomato paste was first invented. God bless technology.


Humans aren’t the only ones who benefitted from 3D-printing technology in 2014. The lives of our animal friends improved as well. There was the penguin who had his life saved through a 3D-printed beak; a duck named Buttercup who got a new 3D-printed flipper foot; and this little guy,TurboRoo. The puppy, who was born without his front legs, had a special cart 3D-printed for him by Mark Deadrick, the president of a 3D-printing company called 3dyn, who then affixed some skate wheels to it so that the little guy could get around. 3D-printing technology will allow new, cheap iterations of the cart as the puppy grows.

Exoskeletons, prosthetics & more

While the items in this category could all technically have gone under “Medicine,” we had to create a separate one because there were just so many of them made in 2014. There were the custom-made braces for scoliosis patientsthat promise to be more effective and more comfortable; the 3D-printed leg known as Roboleg; the 3D-printed exoskeleton that has helped a paralyzed skier to walk again; and the 3D-printed ultrasound cast that just might become a fashion accessory.

Although it’s hard to choose a favorite from the amazing breakthroughs in this category, we are going with the prosthetic arms made by Not Impossible Labs for victims of the violence in South Sudan through Project Daniel. The arms can be made in just six hours and cost only $100, which, through fundraising, means they can give hope and dignity back to thousands of amputees.


2014 is the year in which a 20-foot-tall 3D-printer in Amsterdam began producing an entire house and, for that, it is the head-and-shoulders winner in this category. 3D printing holds a lot of promise in the field of architecture not only because of the customization available (like this castlethat came to 3D-printed life in 2014), but because many predict it will be able to quickly and cheaply put up structures — especially in underprivileged areas or places struck by natural disaster.

And what do you fill a 3D-printed house with? 3D-printed furniture, of course.


There were so many applications of 3D printing in the world of fashion in 2014 that my CNET colleague Michelle Starr will be putting together a separate gallery to highlight them all.

Still, any comprehensive wrap-up of 3D printing technology in 2014 couldn’t leave out this vital category, so for it I nominate this fashion-forward invention. It’s a 3D-printed dress that has 20 reactive displays built into it that become transparent as the wearer reveals more data about herself online. The concept causes us to rethink technology — especially the wearable kind — even while employing it to bring the project to life.


2014 is the year in which the world’s first 3D-printed car design competition was held, and the company behind that competition, Local Motors, took the winning design by Michele Anoé of Italy into production. The car itself was unveiled at Chicago’s International Manufacturing Technology Show in September. They are now signing up interested parties on their website who will be alerted once the car is ready for mass consumption.

While that’s certainly cool, we had to give this category to another vehicle — the Bloodhound SSC. While it isn’t entirely made from 3D-printed parts, it does have its share of them and, well, it just looks super cool. That, and it’s powered by a jet engine and rocket cluster that will allow it to top out at 1,000 MPH.

Cradle to grave

I know this isn’t a typical category for a list like this, but we covered two things that fit so perfectly here I just had to give them their own space. (Warning: I could have easily named this category “The Creepiest Uses of 3D Printing.”)

The first is this life-size figurine of your unborn baby. That’s right, if you just can’t wait to hold junior in your arms, a company called 3D Babies (of course), will use ultrasound data to recreate your in-utero tike’s head and put it on one of four bodies available in three different skin tones.

If that sounds a little creepy, wait till you get ahold of this one: It’s an urn to hold your loved one’s ashes that looks just like the head of, um, your loved one. That’s right, a company called Cremation Solutions promises to be able to make the urn using just a few photos of the deceased. A small urn costs $600 and will hold a portion of the ashes, while a full-sized version that can hold all of the ashes will run $2400. But really, can you put a price on something like this?


While 2014 did see its share of 3D-printed instruments come to life — like this saxophone and these super-cool instruments, we’re going to award this category to someone who used a 3D printer to make music in an entirely different way — by playing it on the printer itself.

That’s right. A YouTuber called Zero Innovations figured out how to rig a Simple Metal Printer from Printrbot to play “The Imperial March” from Star Wars using the sounds of the motors that move the printhead. While this also deserves a “Most Creative Use of a 3D Printer Award,” instead I’ll name the piece the official song to The Year of 3D Printing. Nicely done Zero Innovations. Nicely done.

by Michael Franco | December 18, 2014 8:57 AM PST

3D printing sounds

Do you agree that the future of music could rely heavily on 3D printing, or do you think that this is just a fad which will never catch on in the long run? Tell us what you think! 🙂…/3d-printing-sounds-like-the-future-o…/

Olaf Diegel's 3D printed instrument (Photo credit: Lund University)

This is music to the ears of instrumentalists and  fans of 3D printing alike.
This is music to the ears of instrumentalists and fans of 3D printing alike. Professor Olaf Diegel, who teaches Product Development at Lund University, in Sweden, along with a band of students has taken two guitars, a drum set and a keyboard from a concept to the concert hall.
Olaf Diegel's 3D printed instrument (Photo credit: Lund University)

The idea came to Diegel some years ago as a rock band-playing youth who had started experimenting with 3D printing. “Well, at that time I was just prototyping but I had seen it evolve and getting better and better over the years until the point where it was being used for the manufacture of lots of applications,” Diegel explains to Metro.

The electric guitar was the first instrument to be completed and worked perfectly after just 11 hours of printing. “Then I tried making a bass guitar, which is more difficult as the strings cause much more tension and take more time, but that worked fine too,” he says. To complete the band, the New Zealand-born designer also produced a drum kit and a keyboard after a partnership with 3D Systems, the world’s leading manufacturer of 3D printing machines.

It sounds like Diegel hit the right note from the outset but actually he worked on the musical instruments for nearly three years before reaching his crescendo. “During this time, I made over 55 guitars and basses, three drum kits, two keyboards and most of them were sold within the last two years”, he says.

After printing, the instruments’ bodywork is painted. The manmade aesthetics are an area, which can draw suspicion and questioning over the quality of their sound.
But according to the creator, they are comparable to any high-quality instrument. “So far, all professional musicians that have played them have been quite impressed and not just by how they look but also by how they play and sound. The quality of the instruments speak for themselves,” he says.

Olaf Diegel's 3D printed instrument (Photo credit: Lund University)

Diegel is now working on a second version of a 3D-printed saxophone and is considering making a one-of-a-kind wind instrument, like a flute on which it is possible to play complete chords, together with the melody. “3D printing allows us to make products that would be impossible to make using conventional technologies. If I were making conventionally-shaped guitars then there would be better, more cost-effective ways of making them. But because the shapes of my guitars are incredibly complex, it’s the ideal technology to use,” he concludes.


3D printing and music

Our latest blog post: A musical ride through the influence and qualities of 3D printing on music! 🙂…/3d-printings-musical-…

Friends, customers, printaholics – lend us your ears and join us along a 3D printed musical adventure!

A recent post which featured one of Malta 3D Printing’s favourite little musical toys – a kazoo – inspired us to continue down this musical vein.

To place things into perspective, the 3D printable instruments of today are split into three categories.

Firstly, we have ‘experimental pieces’, which don’t have a conventional equal outside of the realm of 3D printing. Secondly, there are ‘enhanced instruments’, which improve the qualities of an already existing instrument thanks to 3D printing’s unique capabilities.

Finally, we have replications of existing instruments, which have no real added benefits compared to the traditional piece.

Pictured above is a prime example of a 3D printable musical piece still in experimental stages.

This unusual trumpet is reminiscent of a modern painter’s masterpiece rather than a practical musical device.  While this aesthetically pleasing instrument is yet to be created, there are others which are already in circulation.
In a different interview, flute player Seth Hunter emphasized the plastic flute’s acoustic similarities to the traditional metal ones. He also noted the slight misplacement of the keys – but remember – 3D printing encourages technicians to fix any minor errors in the subsequent print.

Created by yet another student from MIT, Amit Zoran was not far away from creating an exact replica, and this was way back in 2011. The traditional flute falls under the ‘existing instrument’ category, but our next pick certainly has its fair share of enhancements.

A laser-cut violin made from plywood, this stringed instrument was created by Ranjit Bhatnagar, a sound art enthusiast.

Its’ bulky wooden outer shell provides a stern contrast to the graceful sounds it can produce. Bhatnagar even took his masterpiece to the streets, inviting different violin players to fiddle away.

‘Ranjit’ as he is known on Thingiverse, has a personal page chocked full of free designs for different instruments – including an okarina, organ pipe, spiral panpipes and more.

Next up is another piece seeking to replicate an original design, but this one is slightly different. At four feet long, this home-made behemoth requires many printing sessions.

Clearly, this great bass recorder functions well – and the creator has since improved on his original work. The recorer is made up over 48 inches of PVC pipe measuring 1.5″, a few sections made of 2″ and multiple, custom built 3D pieces.

Created by Instructables user ‘sngai’, a quick internet search will reveal that opting to print this object as opposed to purchasing a store-bought one will save players a lot of money.

Who knows what the future holds? PLA pianos, ABS acoustic guitars and printable drum kits may soon become popular. As the number of 3D printed instruments continues to grow, its only a matter of time before musicians hop on the fast-moving bandwagon!

by  | 4 September 2014

3D printed saxophone

For the music lovers; here’s a 3D printed sax with some soul 🙂…/3d-printed-saxophone-makes-sweet-pla…/

The creator of a 3D-printed band tackles the making of an alto saxophone and delivers a surprisingly soulful instrument.
Olaf Diegel enjoys making music with unusual instruments. He’s the designer behind a series of guitars, a set of drums, and a keyboard shell that all came out of a 3D printer. He wasn’t content to rest there, though. Now he has a 3D-printed alto saxophone, an instrument that shows both the current capabilities and future promise of 3D printing.

The sax, printed from nylon, consists of 41 components, not counting screws and springs. It’s incredibly light, weighing in at just over one pound. While the technical challenges of 3D-printing a saxophone were considerable, the result is an instrument that sounds quite lively. “Surprisingly to me, the sax sounds very much like a sax,” Diegel writes.

Diegel used a traditional sax for the template. The whole project took about six months, with the actual assembling time taking several weeks to get the sax functioning properly.

This particular sax is a prototype. Diegel is still perfecting the mechanical function and fixing an air leakage issue that causes a couple of the notes to be out of tune. With his other instruments, such as the 3D-printed guitars, he took a lot of creative liberty with the design. He plans to do the same for future versions of the saxophone, taking advantage of the flexibility 3D offers. His guitars have come in the form of see-through beehives, spider webs, and even a steampunk design with internal gears on display.

Diegel’s experiments with 3D-printed instruments have a larger purpose. “One of the reasons I was keen to undertake the project was to show that 3D printing can be used for applications beyond trinkets, phone cases, and jewelry,” he writes. He enjoys combining 3D-printed parts with traditionally manufactured pieces to create hybrid designs. It’s not 3D printing just for the sake of 3D printing; it’s about finding the right place for 3D printing in the manufacturing chain. The side effect of this quest is a series of beautifully printed instruments which can now lay claim to a “brass” section.

by | August 5, 201411:16 AM PDT

3D printable records

3D printable records that work on standard turntables!!

Although the quality and design needs improvement, this development means that we might all have an excuse to bust out our (grand)parents’ dusty record players and print our own tunes! 🙂

3D printed record puts a new spin on digital music

If you thought downloading music from the internet had nothing new to offer, think again. One of the tech editors over at Instructables — Amanda Ghassaei — has put a new twist on the digital delivery of music by 3D printing a record. Ghassaei developed a technique that converts digital audio files into 3D printable (33 rpm) grooved plastic discs, that actually play on regular turntables. Not only that, she printed some functioning prototypes as proof of concept. The printer used was relatively high-resolution, with 600 dpi on the x/y axes, and layers just 16 microns thick, but the audio quality is still somewhat low — 11KHz, with a 5 – 6bit resolution. The important thing, however, is that it worked — highlighting even more uses for the burgeoning technology. Want to know what it sounds like? Skip the needle past the break for a lo-fi (or is it “warmer”) demo that includes Nirvana, New Order, Daft Punk and more. Want to make your own? Head to the source for the blow-by-blow instructions.
by James Trew | @itstrew | December 21st 2012 At 7:15am