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Restoring 19th Century Musical Instruments with 3D Printing

playing instruments.jpg

An incredible research project at the UConn has managed to bring several 19th century musical instruments back to life. 

The project is a collaboration between music and engineering disciplines, in an effort to restore ancient musical instruments that pre-date audio recording technology. The few instruments from that era that survive are no longer functional, so no one alive has ever heard them play. 

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Using a highly accurate 3D scan obtained using micro-computed tomography, a technology normally associated with medical applications, the team was able to overcome multiple challenges. 

First, they were able to develop and print 3D models precisely duplicating the ancient instruments as they exist today. But some of the instruments are over 150 years old and have developed warps, cracks and other flaws that either distort sounds from intended quality or prevent playing altogether. 

The team was able to modify the scanned models to print “restored” versions of the instruments that could be successfully played. Finally, they were also able to reproduce missing parts for some instruments, such as mouthpieces, enabling the actual instruments to play again - for the first time in over a century. 

Please check out the video that describes the entire process and hear the instruments being played. 

This is an amazing application, but for us it simply proves a key point in this 21st century: the most valuable thing is the model. If you have that, you can do anything. 

Via UConn

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