How 3D Printing Will Change Music

by Jason King on March 15, 2014

3D Printed Spider Web GuitarA lot of the discussion surrounding 3D printing technology and its possibilities often points to how it will change industries such as medicine, food and the automobile.

There has, however, been relatively less talk about how it will affect less obvious areas like the music industry.

Since music isn’t a tangible object, it can at first seem like the combination of 3D printing and music is a long shot.

While it is true that music is not a physical object and is something that is an auditory experience, there are many other areas of the music industry that do include material objects related to music and this is where the incredible potential exists for 3D printing and music. One of these areas is music merchandise.

While the sale of merchandise has gone through some transformation since the advent of the internet, the sales of merchandise at concerts and other physical locations has remained virtually unchanged since the days of Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones.

As of now, if someone goes to a concert and enjoys the music, the process of acquiring merchandise can take two possible routes: the customer either walks up to a sales stand at the concert to purchase items like t-shirts, wrist bands and sweatshirts, or waits to purchase it online from a website. The types of items are relatively limited, and the availability is limited to how many are currently in stock. 

This is where 3D printing can come in. Instead of being limited to what is currently available, 3D printers at concerts would allow for a much larger and readily available inventory of merchandise since all that is required is the digital file and building materials.

There would also be much more diversity in the types of items that music fans could purchase at concerts, where any music related object file could be downloaded on the printer and created.

The possibilities of 3D printing and music are also not limited to traditional merchandise. While we are typically used to thinking of music merchandise as apparel, a whole new wave of creative merchandise suited to individuals could rise as a result of 3D printing.

3D scanners could be placed on the stage that capture incredible moments with the band, and concert goers could purchase photos of these moments that could be made into posters to take back home with them as reminders of their great night, creating a whole new type of music product for consumers.

3D printers could also print objects that replay the live music from the night, such as a 3D printed turntable with the band’s logo or a 3D printed version of Deadmau5’s iconic mouse head helmet, where the ears are speakers that are replaying the live music from that night.

While a lot of opportunities exist for 3D printing and music merchandise, another promising area in music is the 3D manufacturing of musical instruments.

It is very likely that within our lifetimes 3D printed musical instruments will be commonplace. 3D printer technology as it stands now is fully capable of not only printing virtually any type of instrument currently in existence, but also instruments/parts that are not yet possible with todays technology/manufacturing practices.

For example, 3D printers will be able to create geometric shapes that are not feasible using traditional manufacturing techniques, and it could be done nearly effortlessly with no manual labor/human craftsmanship. Instruments that harness these new shapes will likely have a much different and unique sound as a result, opening up a whole new realm of genres/play styles.

While we haven’t seen many revolutionary applications of 3D printing and music yet, the effect that the technology could have on how we interact with music is limitless, and it will be truly exciting to see how different the music industry will become as a result.

Thanks to for this great guest blog post. If you enjoyed reading it as much as we did, then feel free to share this article with your friends.

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