Designing wind musical instruments for 3D printing

Researchers from Autodesk and Dartmouth College create software to design freeform wind instruments.

A team of researchers has created Printone, a design software tool for creating 3D printed simple freeform wind musical instruments. Printone provides feedback as the user works in the interaction of shape and sound.

The musical toys created using Printone look simple but the math behind the design and 3D printing “formulates the resonance problem as a minimum eigenvalue problem of a nonlinear matrix.” (Source: Autodesk Research)

Created by a team from Autodesk Research and Dartmouth College, Printone solves an historically tricky feat; designing for both sound and shape at the same time. Printone uses frequency prediction methods to guide transforming a simple shape into a simple musical instrument. Currently Printone can be used to design small toy-like, ocarina-style objects capable of playing several basic notes.

“Sound simulation of a three dimensional wind musical instrument is known to be computationally expensive,” writes the research team in an abstract for a paper submitted to Siggraph Asia. “To overcome this problem, we present a novel fast resonance frequency prediction method based on the boundary element method.”

The results are shown in the video below, showing how Printone was used to create simple “print-wind instruments,” as the researchers call the new musical toys.

Authors of the paper introducing Printone are Nobuyuki Umetani, Athina Panotopoulou, Ryan Schmidt, and Emily Whiting.