3D printing has the opportunity to revolutionize yet another industry, music. We’ve seen some amazing 3D-printed instruments like this violin from Monad Studios. Now, a research group from the Australian University of Wollongong has created a new type of flute that can play notes that are unreachable on a traditional flute. Nitpicking, but this flute does resemble a traditional recorder more than an orchestral flute. The 3D-printed flute operates on a microtonal scale, which utilizes tuning rations that vary from the traditional Western scale. The microtonal creation allows more opportunities for varied harmonies and pitch.
Dr. Terumi Narushima heads up the research project. According to her, the project is about, “It’s about challenging the status quo of the music industry – looking at what kind of new music and new instruments we can create.”
The layout of the flute was designed using mathematical models to determine the size and location of the holes needed to create each sound. The design’s accuracy was tested as researchers played the flute in an anechoic (echo-free) chamber.
Dr. Narushima sees many future applications of this technology besides simply making new sounds. Using the same mathematical models, it’s possible to create custom instruments for those with physical limitations. Their instruments would be shaped differently, but capable of producing the same sounds as traditional ones.
Check out the 3D-printed flute and its microtonal scale in this video from the university.