How To 3-D Print A Record

Try to spin these 3-D printed vinyl analogs at your next party, and the dance floor will likely grind to a halt. But the technique created by Instructables assistant tech editor Amanda Ghassaei for converting digital audio files into printable, playable 33 rpm records is actually pretty amazing, and as 3-D printer resolution continues ticking upward, the sound quality can only get better and better.

Printed on an Objet Connex500 printer capable of 600 dpi in the x and y axes, the vinyl analogs are reproduced using a custom-built program that essentially converts audio files into the CAD data necessary to reproduce the analog audio in the printed record grooves–a feat made possible by the relatively high-degree resolution now available in commercially marketed 3-D printers. This resolution is still an order of magnitude or two lower than the resolution of actual pressed vinyl–hence the lackluster sound you get from the 3-D printed records–but the fact that you can do it at all is impressive.

Ghassaei doesn’t think the technique will ever be able to replicate true vinyl sound. Right now the 11 Khz sampling rate is roughly a quarter of what you get from the .mp3 that you’re converting, and even at higher resolutions–which will produce better sound–it would be difficult to achieve the exact same sound. But that’s not really the point. The point is that vinyl is old, and 3-D printing is new and combined they are very cool and interesting. And you can do it at home, if you have access to the right 3-D printing setup. Learn more about that at Instructables.

3D Printed Record from Amanda Ghassaei on Vimeo.