Now that we live in a digital age, there’s been a concerted effort to back up old analog media in a, well, digital format. You’ve no doubt seen machines whose job it is to turn tapes and even vinyls into MP3′s or even higher quality lossless formats. But now that 3D printing is coming of age, a project by Amanda Ghassaei seeks to turn those MP3s right back into the vinyls they might have once come from. As you can imagine, the result is very low quality. Not only is the MP3 format lossy, meaning it removes some detail from the music in order to compress it into a small size, but the resolution limits on modern 3D printing techniques further adds a layer of noise to the original sound. But still, you’re left with a record that can be played in a standard turntable, and which was produced with a 3D printer.
I’ve created a technique for converting digital audio files into 3D-printable, 33rpm records and printed a few prototypes that play on ordinary turntables. Though the audio quality is low -the records have a sampling rate of 11kHz (a quarter of typical mp3 audio) and 5-6 bit resolution (less than one thousandth of typical 16 bit resolution)- the audio output is still easily recognizable. These records were printed on an Objet Connex500 resin printer to a precision of 600dpi with 16 micron z axis resolution. The 3D modeling in this project was far too complex for traditional drafting-style CAD techniques, so I wrote an program to do this conversion automatically.
Check out Amanda’s site for a bunch more details on what she did, after the jump. Also, a few renderings of the grooves that are produced, as well as a video with a sample of the sound produced.