3D printing is at the vanguard of technical development right now. It’s the process of creating solid three-dimensional objects from digital models by adding successive layers of material. Until now, it’s been primarily used for industrial design, architecture, engineering and construction (AEC), and in the automotive, aerospace, jewellery, dental, and medical industries.
Now, DIY enthusiast and audio nut Amanda Ghassaei of Instructables (pictured) has adapted the 3D printing process to make records that can be played on a conventional turntable. She has recently succeeded in making 12-inch records containing music by Nirvana, The Pixies and Daft Punk. The results sound awful, as you’ll hear in the video below:
A 3D printer can currently only print audio grooves fine enough to capture a fraction of the resolution and sampling rate of a half-decent MP3 file. Added to that, a tiny grain and residue on 3D printed objects interferes with a stylus’ ability to pick up a clean audio signal. However, even getting this far is an impressive technical achievement.
Creating records this way is expensive in terms of printer time and raw materials – for what it costs to print three 12-inch records you could produce 100 on vinyl. Also, 3D printers are not going to become good enough to produce grooves small enough and clean enough to properly reproduce high-quality audio anytime soon. So, for now, it remains a science project, but maybe at some point in the future we’ll all be able to give our inner vinyl junkie a new fix right at home.