Amanda Ghassaei, a DIY audio geek and editor at Instructables, succeeded in 3D printing 12-inch records containing the music of Nirvana, The Pixies, and Daft Punk. Using an Objet Connex500, she printed the records at one of the highest 3d print resolutions available, but how does that resolution really sound?
The 3D Printed Record
Using Processing to write a program that translates digital audio into 3D models and then printed (at 600 DPI), Ghassaei pulled off an incredibly impressive feat, even if the sound quality is ho-hum:
3D Record Version of Radiohead’s “Everything in it’s Right Place”
Album Version of Radiohead’s “Everything in it’s Right Place”
Even at the highest possible resolutions available in 3D printing, the actual printed grooves are only a fraction of the resolution and sampling rate of what’s needed to deliver crisp, high quality sound that is otherwise present on a traditionally manufactured record. Additionally, there’s the omnipresent residue on 3D printed objects that interferes with the record needle’s ability to pick up clean audio. Despite these technological challenges, as you can hear above the audio is still recognizable and Ghassaei has summed up our current technological state of 3D Printing perfectly in one project…a project that pushes the boundaries of 3D print manufacturing and opens doors for home-based manufacturing.
Despite the upsides of the project, it’s fairly unrealistic to expect 3D printed records on the market anytime soon. The price between materials and print time to print a 12-inch record is in the hundreds of dollars to print a single record. But hey, if you like that ‘warm and fuzzy’ lo-fi sound, the high price just might justify itself?