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September 4, 2014 AT 7:35 am

Andreas Bastian – 3D Printed Banjo-Ukulele #3DxMusic #3DThursday #3DPrinting

Today on our weekly live 3D Hangouts, we will be sharing a short “Field Guide” to celebrate the many ways that desktop 3D printing has entered into the area of music today. Here’s a quick roundup of a few other #3DxMusic projects that caught our interest to whet your appetite!


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Artist and engineer Andreas Bastian has a passion for investigating novel 3D printing techniques and designs — and he approached the challenge of creating a 3D printed instrument as an opportunity to explore how he might create a stringed acoustic instrument suited to how desktop 3D printers lay down 3D printing materials. As you can hear from the video below, the resulting “banjolele” sounds as good as it looks!

Andreas Bastian – 3D Printed Banjo-Ukulele:

A conversation with Geoff Wiley of the wonderful Jalopy Theater in Brooklyn, NY introduced me to the banjo ukulele, whose thin, resonant membrane and open-back construction stuck me as very conducive to 3D printing.  Several weeks later and after many design discussions with Geoff, I arrived at this design, which uses a thin hexagonal webbing to support a 0.5mm membrane,which produces a nice full tone.  Other revisions of the membrane design varied the membrane thickness and webbing structure, both of which impacted tone and volume significantly.  

While I have given those early versions away to friends, I was able to compare the frequency spectrums and decay profiles of a classic wooden-bodied ukulele with those of my 3D printed banjo ukulele (printed uke plucks first, classic uke plucks second).  It’s obvious to any listener that the two instruments sound different, but these spectra are a useful way to quantify and compare those differences.  All four plucks of the printed instrument have frequency bands that extend higher and more densely than those of the classic ukulele.  The presence higher frequencies make sense mechanically— the thin, stiff membrane of the printed uke can resonate at higher frequencies than can the porous, thicker wooden chamber of the classic uke.  However, both the C and E open strings on the printed uke have wide, early bands that decay quickly while the classic uke has a clearer frequency distribution from the beginning.   One final interesting difference is especially pronounced on the open A string pluck:  on the printed uke harmonics all start simultaneously, but on the classic uke, higher harmonics don’t start until 3/100ths of a second after the lower harmonics do.  I’m guessing this has to do with the geometry of the resonant chamber, but I’m not sure.  Though these particular spectrograms are interesting and informative, what I really need is to compare these characteristics to those of a true banjo ukulele (in the works!).  

Read more.

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Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!

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The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! We also offer the LulzBot TAZ – Open source 3D Printer and the Printrbot Simple Metal 3D Printer in our store. If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!


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