Room 2
11:30 - 12:30
Access to Arts & Culture
Printed Sounds: The Technology Behind 3D-Printed Instruments

Short thesis

Accessible 3D-print is here and available, yet the industrial revolution that was announced with it hasn’t taken place as we expected. How come? Changing the way we do things requires more than just having new technical possibilities at hand. Experts and users in each field have to discover the new applications in their own specific areas and convince themselves to take the leap and innovate, which requires openminded, courageous creativity.


Few areas of human creativity are as conservative as music. Most of the instruments we play are iterations of designs which have been around for centuries if not millennia. Even electronic music is nostalgic: musicians tend to prefer old devices and smartphone apps are often made to look like 40-year-old consoles. The term „conservatory“ (from italian conservare, to preserve) is very appropriate for the musical institutions indeed.

There is nothing wrong about the nostalgic and traditional musical world by itself although. The issue is that when new technical possibilities become available they require a long time to catch up within such a traditional environment. Who would like to learn how to play a new instrument after devoting a lifetime mastering an old one?

3D-modelling and 3D-print offer an astonishing new palette of options which goes way beyond producing the same objects we have always produced in a different way. 3D-print allows for the creation of objects which were impossible to conceive just years ago and even puts into question the way we understand production itself.

In this session we will explore the clash between the musical world and the 3D-print technologies, attempting an overview of how can we do old things in a new manner as well as entirely new concepts too. Musical instrument development, design and production, not to mention musical research and pedagogy, are some of the areas which have a huge potential for further enhancement thanks to the new technical possibilities. The current research collaboration between Volkswagen and 3D Music Instruments, as odd as it may seem, is a fine example of how to connect cutting edge technology with researchers in a traditionally-oriented area which can, and should, benefit from it.