Scientists, enthusiasts and even music-loving amateurs are using 3D printing to create instruments from flutes to banjos. Even more impressively, the technology has opened up the possibility of recreating exact replicas of antique instruments such as Stradivarius violins and the original saxophone mouthpiece invented by Adolphe Sax.
Adolphe Sax's actual saxophone mouthpiece
Not his actual one, you understand, no one needs centuries' old spittle, but a 3D-printed replica.
This is a music geek's dream: the technology of 3D printing means that original instruments from the likes of saxophone inventor Adolphe Sax are brought back and the sounds of history come to life.
Introducing… the 3Dvarius
This is inspired by a Stradivarius violin (see what they did with the name there?)
Ok, so it doesn’t *look* much like one of Antonio Stradivari’s instruments, but the team behind this swish piece of musical kit had this to say:
“The goal was to create a unique design, inspired by the shape of a traditional violin, and refining the forms and supports to obtain a more aesthetic design, simpler, lighter and transparent.”
The inventor, Laurent Bernadac, said he hopes “violinists will create new sounds and new playing techniques, and a new musical repertoire.”
And he's not the only one printing violins…
"It really does sound like a real violin!" says the brainy and informative Simon Hewitt. The violin in this video was one of the first instruments to be made by 3D printing techniques. It was made all in one piece and sounds surprisingly convincing:
How about a flute?
Made in 2010, this 3D printed flute only contains added springs - the keys and everything else all came from the printer itself. This fascinating video (complete with entertainingly thick accents) tells the story of how scientists at MIT worked with musicians to improve their designs and perfect the flute itself.
By their own admission, it doesn't sound great. But it's not half bad for something that's come out of a printer, if you ask us.
Tooting on a home-made trombone
This is a hugely impressive bit of DIY instrument making. It might not sound quite as impressive as its brass counterparts, but small steps for one trombone player, giant leaps etc etc.
Oh this? It's just my home-printed banjo
These two German jokers have managed to print a recorder and a banjo, surely two of the least-loved instruments in existence. Unsurprisingly, they don't sound that great. Their reasons are their own.
And why not throw caution to the wind and print an entire band
Proof that the future of musical instrument manufacture could be a lot more user-friendly than it used to be, this entire band is made from 3D printed instruments. Perhaps inevitably the focus in this new technology has been on pop instruments, but surely it's only a matter of time before the classical world gets more of its own 3D printing solutions.