Playing a 3D printer as a musical instrument

David McCallum writes, "I made an interface to play a 3D printer like it's a musical instrument."

This is a significant improvement on the laser cutter that plays the Super Mario theme: it can play more than one song!

The Harp is a prototype physical interface to control a 3D printer to create (noise) music. Printers sing their own songs when printing objects, and the Harp conducts these sounds to sing new songs.

Six "strings" are stroked to trigger gestures from the printer, and the strength of the stroke affects the expression of the gesture by controlling its pitch. The gestures come from the code to print the strings, so the machine is in effect performing parts of its own construction.

Why did I make this? Consider two points:

First, our brains ignore many of the sounds around us, but hidden in those sounds is music, or the potential for music.

Second, we are often told what the tools of digital fabrication are and what they're good for, usually by an evangelist or a company trying to sell us something. This perspective is a narrow representation of what these tools are; they are so much more (and less). Consider the energy consumption. Consider all that extra plastic in the world! Consider the music…