Sound of 3D printed instruments

There is no doubt that the materials used to build an instrument are a key factor of its sound and one can find, without effort, lots of literature and studies -as well as myths- about it (specially regarding string instruments).

Nevertheless, it is also well established that the different families of instruments work in very different ways and rely differently on the materials they are made of in order to produce a sound. Wind instruments rely more on their shape and their acoustic curve than on their materials. As 3D printing can produce complex shapes and curves in a very precise way this technology is ideal for the production of wind instruments.

The nylon polymer of which these 3D printed instruments are made has very similar mechanical properties to wood (and a very similar density). Therefore, the resulting sound is absolutely comparable to the one produced by wooden instruments.

Not convinced? Here are two recordings made with the same mouthpiece, the same microphone and the same post-recording processing and amplification. One of them was made with a traditional wood & parchment cornetto by Serge Delmas and the other one with a 3D printed cornetto: 

And here is a recording of a live concert with two cornetti (again, one by Serge Delmas and a 3D printed one). The cornetti are well mixed with the voices and the microphone placement gave a lot of advantage to the vocal soloists, but it is a good example to compare the performance of both instruments under real concert conditions:

(João Lourenço Rebelo, Fratres sobrii. Casa da Música, Porto, 29.09.2013. Conductor: Marco Mencoboni. Cornetti: Ricardo Simian & Josquin Piguet)

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