January 03, 2011, 10:16 AM — This one time at band camp...(ahem). Yes, I can actually tell these kind of jokes because I am a band geek myself. And when it comes to modern instruments nothing is more awesome than one made from a 3D printer.
Amit Zoran from the MIT Media Lab printed a flute using an Object Connex500 3D printer. The builder of the flute designed it to be ergonomically and acoustically comparable to a traditional flute. The printer is capable of printing several materials, and the flute itself is composed of a couple different materials: A rigid material for the flute's body, a different one for the mouth piece, and a softer material for sealing the air properly. Only springs were manually added later.
The flute took around 15 hours to print and was printed in four separate pieces which were then assembled later. Zoran designed the Flute using a CAD program, then sent the CAD drawing to the printer.
This is not the first time that modern technology has been used to put a new spin on classical musical instruments. The company Luis and Clark builds extremely fine carbon-fiber-stringed instruments that have an incredibly deep sound. Then of course there is the electric violin, which itself is pretty amazing. And if you want really modern then you can pick yourself up an iTar which uses an iPad, Kaoss Pad, and a Kaossilator to make music.
The 3D printed flute is just the latest modernization to old instruments. The flute itself sounds beautiful acoustically when played by player Seth Hunter. I don't know about you, but I can't wait to get my hands on a 3D printed sax.