3-D Printed Violins and Guitars Push the Boundaries of Art and Tech

The magic of 3-D printing technology is that it allows for complex, custom objects to be created relatively simply. That has revolutionized prototyping and construction processes for manufacturing. It’s also opened Pandora’s Box for artists and creative designers.

The “complexity of the forms that we are working with here, the violin or any of these instruments, is closer to the complexity that you find in nature in structures like roots of trees,” says Eric Goldemberg, one of the founders of MONAD Studios, the North Miami Beach studio that makes 3-D printed musical instruments. “If you wanted to build that by hand, it’s crazy, really impossible.”

Goldemberg, along with his cofounder and wife Veronica Zalcberg, run an architectural design studio. Prior to working with 3-D printed instruments, Goldemberg and Zalcberg have designed larger-scale architectural projects, from buildings to urban landscape installations.

The 3-D printed violin, guitar and cello are designed to sit in the musician's arms as a traditional instrument would, but the technology allows for personalization and customization to the size and fit of the musician.

“Even though it is a radical departure from your common design type, it sort of, it is equipped with all the things that a cello needs to do,” says Goldemberg, speaking to Entrepreneur.com in New York earlier this month at the Inside 3D Printing conference. “It can be different, and yet it can function as the musicians need it as a playable violin. And it sounds beautiful.”

The instruments are made in parts that are later fused together. It takes between eight and nine days for a single instrument to print out. And so while these current versions of the instruments -- which are currently on a world tour stopping in major international cities like Dubai and Beijing -- are not for sale, they would be prohibitively expensive for many musicians. Goldemberg would not put a specific price on his works.

But while these current versions are more artistic experiments than they are instruments for sale, Goldemberg expects that prices of 3-D printed instruments to change as 3D-printing technology becomes more and more affordable. “The natural path for them to evolve to become available. The machines themselves, if you think about two, three years ago -- way more expensive. We can think that the output of them will also be in the same direction,” he says. “Things will be more available, more for everyone.”