First 3D Printed Record Makes Up for Subpar Sound with Style


For all the high praises of vinyl LPs, you’ve never heard Nirvana quite like this. But it’s not the records fault. It has to do with how it was made by a Objet Connex500 state-of-the-art 3D printer. Amanda Ghassaei, assistant tech editor at Instructables, took it as her charge to be the first to print a vinyl record. The result is completely unique but full of flaws that would make an audiophile cringe.

The basic mechanism of a record is quite simple. A motorized platter spins a round disc at contant speed while an arm carrying a needle (also called a stylus) drags along a groove that spirals toward the center of the disc. The science behind picking up the signal from the disc is slightly more complex and is the result of Faraday’s law of induction. But if you want to make your own record, all you need is a disc with a groove filled with the right bends and bumps.

Ghassaei developed an algorithmic program that converts a source audio into a 3D printable file. This means a song comes in, and a 3D drawing of all the contours of the groove appears. This drawing acts as instructions for the 3D printer and a vinyl can be made.

Back when the record player and cutter were invented by Thomas Edison in 1887, the technology was not precise resulting in a large, deep groove that would quickly fill up the disc with only a couple minutes of sound. Since then, the technology has developed allowing for a miniature grove allowing a lot more data to be put on one side of a record and for that same data to have more detail creating a more realistic and accurate sound. Much like the first Edison record cutter, the best 3D printers of today can only be precise to a certain point (600 dpi with 16 micron steps for the Objet Connex500), which means that the audio quality is low-fidelity, the grooves are wide, and only a couple minutes of music can fit on a disc. The Connex500 is the first 3D printer to be able to cross the precision threshold required to print a record but it’s still short of industry grade by a factor of ten or so.

Ghassaei’s process for converting a digital file to an 3D printable file is possible because the grove of a record is more or less a microscopic image of the analog audio waveform. She takes the digital waveform, renders it to an 11 Khz sampling rate, and then generates a wireframe version of the signal. This wireframe version is then wrapped in a spiral around a 3D 12-inch disc.

“It’s really stripped down, it’s down to the bare essentials,” Ghassaei told Wired. “It’s really cool to kind of push the technology and see what you can get out of it.”


Attribution

Wired Design Blog


Commentary Ticker

  • Data Knows Best: Greatest TV Shows Get Ranked and Graphed
    March 26, 2014 | 10:50 am

    Every argument is better with charts and graphs. Sometimes a little linear regression can provide more insight than a long-winded report. GraphTV tests that theory by plotting the ratings of popular television shows. It all started with Breaking Bad. Data guru Kevin Wu was watching its fifth and final season and couldn’t help but think [...]

  • A Coin-Inspired National Spirit, Hopefully
    March 20, 2014 | 11:56 am

    The Lakota Nation, a group of seven Native American bands in North and South Dakota, voted to make a Bitcoin-like crypto-currency called MazaCoin their official currency, according to Forbes. Programmer and Lakota activist Payu Harris believes that the coin will help the Lakota people gain sovereignty over their land. “To be a truly independent state [...]

  • Smartguns and the Promise of Progress
    March 3, 2014 | 9:50 am

    With the recent Sandy Hook elementary school shooting (and the 44 school shootings since) still relatively fresh in our collective minds, and with Congress empirically unable to do anything to stop gun violence at all, it seems slowing, if not stopping, the gun violence epidemic has fallen on a strange coalition of gun manufacturers, Silicon [...]

  • Watch: Movies Without Imaginary Friends
    January 28, 2014 | 12:56 pm

    If you seriously haven’t watched Fight Club yet (or read the book by Chuck Palahniuk) stop and go do that right now. You’re fifteen years late to the craziest party. Okay, you’ve watched it now? Onwards. A visual effects specialist in New York accelerated himself to Internet fame in mid-January when he edited Tyler Durden [...]

  • The Racism of “Racism”: The Complicated Origins of the Term
    January 17, 2014 | 12:27 pm

    “Racism,” like race, was invented. The term “racism” has done a lot of heavy lifting for anti-racism advocates, helping to frame anyone discriminating by race as misguided. Just as with classism or sexism, not only does the word racism give name to an evil, it helps to create the thing as evil in the first [...]

  • RSSArchive for Commentary Ticker »

Join our mailing list!



Trending on The Airspace