Design tool provides interactive sound simulation feedback

A research team from Autodesk and Dartmouth College has developed a new interactive design tool called “Printone”, which gives users the ability to create functional 3D-printed wind instruments of any shape using an interactive sound simulation feedback. The team designed 16 free-form wind instruments to play different melodies, including: a star that can play “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”, a rabbit that can play “Little Peter Rabbit”; a snowman who can play “Jingle Bells”; and a dragon that can play “Puff the Magic Dragon”.

“With Printone, anyone can be a designer of new wind musical instruments. You can turn almost any shape you like into instruments and play your favorite melody,” says study co-author Nobuyuki Umetani , head of the design and manufacturing group at Autodesk. .

The sound of a wind instrument is created by the player blowing air into the instrument, which creates a vibration in the air known as acoustic resonance – the interaction between sound waves and internal geometries of the instrument. To date, most traditional wind instruments have taken on tubular shapes whose resonance is well understood, as creating free-form instruments by hand has long been considered a challenge.

Using Printone, users can create a wind instrument from any shape and can select the target notes they want the instrument to have. After the user enters a three-dimensional shape into the platform, the tool creates a hollow acoustic cavity. The user then selects the area where they will easily blow into the instrument (called “the fipple”) and chooses the position and size of the finger holes. The scale of the object can also be changed to reach the target range of notes. During this process, users are guided by rapid simulation feedback on how each edit shifts the notes produced. Alternatively, users can use Printone’s AutoTune feature, which automatically produces hole sizes for the desired target notes for the instrument.

“3D printing has opened up possibilities for personal customization in manufacturing. Our research shows how it is possible to customize shapes not only for their appearance, but also for their physical behavior such as acoustics. We are also excited about the creative opportunities to design an instrument for a specific piece of music. Future work could extend to ergonomics so that the finger configurations of the instrument are easier to play for a particular melody,” explains the co-author of the study, Emily Whiting, assistant professor of computer science at Dartmouth College, who is also a flautist for more than 20 years.

From a computational methodology perspective, the Printone interface reduces the computational scope of the tool, which might otherwise be daunting, by modeling the instrument as a passive resonator in which the oscillation of the mouthpiece is excluded, and focuses on the dominant tone to predict the resonant frequency, rather than considering the entire frequency spectrum.

Through its computer-based acoustic simulation and interactive feedback, Printone enables the creation of amateur-grade wind instruments in unique 3D forms, which can then be printed on commonly available 3D printers.

To learn more about how Printone works, please see the following video:

The team’s research will be showcased this week at the 9th ACM SIGGRAPH Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques in Asia.

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Material provided by Dartmouth College. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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