If you’re a luddite who wishes CDs and MP3s had never been invented then this 3D printing project is just for you. Amanda Ghassaei has invented on a 3D printing process to turn digital audio MP3s into “vinyl” albums that you can play on a record player.
The production of these records pushes the boundaries of current 3D printing technology as extremely fine tracks are needed for the music to be listenable. Amanda chose the Objet Connex500 3D printer for this task due to its incredibly high resolution of 600dpi in the x and y axes and 16 microns in the z axis.
Thus Objet 3D printer uses a UV-cured resin that, like most 3D printers, deposites a fine layer of material layer upon layer until the object is formed. Despite the high resolution, it’s no where near the resolution required to match a conventionally pressed vinyl record. However the records that she has produced from MP3 files are of sufficient quality that the songs are still recognizable. The quality is low with a sample rate of 11kHz (a quarter of that of a CD) and 5-6 bit resolution ( a thousandth of 16bit resolution). As 3D printers improve in their resolution these numbers will no doubt improve and result in better sound reproduction which should eventually match that of vinyl.
A special program was written so that the MP3 digital waveform of each song is translated into the geometry of the record’s track to be printed contained in an STL file that’s sent to the 3D printer. For an in-depth tutorial of how this was done please read this 3D printed record guide.
Unfortunately most people won’t own the technology that allows music to be played in this way. Like us you’ll have to watch this video to experience a 3D printed record for yourself.