HOME  |  NEWS  |  BLOGS  |  MESSAGES  |  FEATURES  |  VIDEOS  |  WEBINARS  |  INDUSTRIES  |  FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
  |  REGISTER  |  LOGIN  |  HELP
Blogs
CAD/CAM Corner
3D Printers Give New Life to Old Recordings
1/18/2013

Image 1 of 4      Next >

National Museum of American History curator Carlene Stephens examines a glass disc recording containing the audio of a male voice repeating 'Mary had a little lamb' twice, made more than 100 years ago in Alexander Graham Bell's Volta Lab.   (Source: Rich Strauss, Smithsonian)
National Museum of American History curator Carlene Stephens examines a glass disc recording containing the audio of a male voice repeating "Mary had a little lamb" twice, made more than 100 years ago in Alexander Graham Bell's Volta Lab.
(Source: Rich Strauss, Smithsonian)

Image 1 of 4      Next >

Return to Article

View Comments: Threaded|Newest First|Oldest First
tekochip
User Rank
Platinum
Voyager Disc
tekochip   1/18/2013 5:17:29 PM
NO RATINGS
Who knows, maybe in a few thousand years some being will use the same process to read the golden disc on Voyager. 
Seriously though, I wonder what other lost reproductions can be recovered with a similar process.


audioguy
User Rank
Iron
Re: Voyager Disc
audioguy   1/21/2013 10:58:14 AM
NO RATINGS
Interesting from the standpoint of analog/digital resolution performance. It's been estimated that the equivalent digital channel spec. needed to equal "obsolete" 30 i.p.s. analog tape, which was the standard for high-quality recording back in the day, is a 500Khz sampling rate at 24 bits of TRUE resolution. The smallest signal modulations encoded in the groove walls of a vinyl LP are on the scale of a wavelength of visible light. 3D printing will have to go a long way to match that.

Greg M. Jung
User Rank
Platinum
3D Printing Popularity
Greg M. Jung   1/18/2013 11:12:45 PM
NO RATINGS
As 3D printing technology continues to become more and more available, imaginative uses like this will continue to pop up.  Very interesting use of technology.

mrdon
User Rank
Gold
Re: 3D Printing Popularity
mrdon   1/20/2013 7:32:58 PM
NO RATINGS
Greg, I agree. The videos showing the reproduced record were pretty impressive. The phonograph player reminded me of my Close and Play toy I had as a child. The limits of 3D printing applications are truly limited by one's imagination. Cool article Cabe!

Scott Orlosky
User Rank
Platinum
Re: 3D Printing Popularity
Scott Orlosky   1/27/2013 2:37:21 PM
NO RATINGS
Couldn't agree more.  I can't wait to see what sorts of applications appear.  Especially as the technology evolves toward improved resolution and a wider range of materials and post-processing capabilities.

Elizabeth M
User Rank
Blogger
Cool application of this technology
Elizabeth M   1/21/2013 4:52:03 AM
NO RATINGS
It's one thing to replicate auto parts--it's another to revive history! That's a very cool application of this technology. And as an avid music lover who misses that scratch of vinyl, the idea that this could breathe new life into records also is appealing.

3drob
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Cool application of this technology
3drob   1/21/2013 9:32:21 AM
NO RATINGS
As someone who is just starting to rip their LP collection (I finished my first album just two days ago) I'm a bit perplexed.  I understand the archival aspect of transferring old media (I wish I had something to scan records instead of playing them, an inherently damaging exercise).  But I was expecting to read about someone printing a long gone DEVICE to play long obsolete media, not printing that obsolete media.  Seems a bit of a waste, especially since printers are inherently rectilinear devices, not polar (as a record is), so getting a usable result would require a much higher resolution printer than currently exist.

Larry M
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Cool application of this technology
Larry M   1/21/2013 9:54:41 AM
NO RATINGS
3drob wrote " Seems a bit of a waste, especially since printers are inherently rectilinear devices, not polar (as a record is),..."

Uhhh, cylindrical, I think.

3drob
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Cool application of this technology
3drob   1/21/2013 10:38:39 AM
NO RATINGS
Records (discs such as those shown in the article) use polar (radial?) coordinates (theta-radius).  I would assume it would be extremely difficult to get adequate results printing a record in polar coord. using an x-y printer (and the article does imply this).

Interesting point about cylinders, though.  Early commercial Edison recordings were cylinders.  Of course, cylinders use both coordinate systems in three dimensions (fixed radius, with x axis and theta variables).  You could print a cylinder by printing a flat sheet with x-y coordinates, soften the print and wrap it around a cylinder form.  It would probably yield better results than a disk (except at the joint).

Larry M
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Cool application of this technology
Larry M   1/21/2013 11:01:05 AM
NO RATINGS
No, No, Rob.  I was referring to planar discs, not recording cylinders, same as you.

Remember your coordinate systems from trigonometry class.

Polar coordinates are a system describing the location of a point from the origin by three angles and a radius.

Cylindrical coordinates are a system describing the location of a point from the origin by use of an angle, a radius, and a Z-axis displacement.  This coordinate system (not the shape of the object) is much more appropriate for describing the groove geometry of a planar phonograph record. The angle and radius describe the location of the groove, and the Z-axis displacement describes the depth of the needle in the groove. It is the variation in depth (Z-axis) which stimulates the crystal or magnetic cartridge transducer, creating the sound.

In fact, a waveform of only the Z-axis sound would be a representation of the audio.

SparkyWatt
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Cool application of this technology
SparkyWatt   1/21/2013 1:42:01 PM
NO RATINGS
I think you are the one that is confused.

Polar co-ordinates (without further specification) is a 2D system, locating a point in a plane by angle and distance from a reference point.  The other common 2D system is Cartesian co-ordinates which locates a point by distance from a reference in two predefined directions.  There is also higher dimensional Cartesian and Polar systems.

It sounded from your description like you were trying to define Spherical co-ordinates, a 3D system of TWO angles and a distance.  The two angles correspond to lattitude and longitude on a globe.  Spherical co-ordinates is one of two common 3D polar systems, the other is cylindrical co-ordinates, a system of two distances and an angle.

There is a 3D system that uses three angles.  It involves two predefined reference points on a predefined reference plane.  The three angles are the polar direction from each of the reference points and the angle from the plane.  A 3D system that involved THREE angles and a distance would be overconstrained.

SparkyWatt
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Cool application of this technology
SparkyWatt   1/21/2013 1:47:13 PM
NO RATINGS
BTW - Your description of Cylindrical co-ordinates was completely correct.  I was referring to the description in the previous paragraph.  It was your "polar" co-ordinates that I think you meant "Spherical" and put in an extra angle.  It occurred to me after I posted that my reference was ambiguous.

Larry M
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Cool application of this technology
Larry M   1/21/2013 1:50:30 PM
NO RATINGS
Right.  I wrote incorrectly and your second post clarified that.

3drob
User Rank
Platinum
Re: Cool application of this technology
3drob   1/22/2013 1:08:03 PM
NO RATINGS
Ahhhhh, Bach!  (sorry, bad pun-ish MASH reference).

Yes some older recordings used the Z-axis to encode audio info but most use the radius (I believe "squiggles in the groove" is the technical term), so a simple polar coordinate system is usually sufficient.  LP's/45's squiggle both sides of the groove independantly to encode stereo, so that does add a z-axis component.

All of this just shows how hard it really is to capture info from obsolete media, and how much harder it would be to "print" a record ("disc") with any usable fidelity.

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
An accomplishment to get this far
Ann R. Thryft   1/23/2013 1:34:50 PM
NO RATINGS
Wow, that's precision! I'm not surprised CAD software can't model audio. Sound--more precisely, music--is extremely complex. It's amazing that 3D printing can do this at all.

Cabe Atwell
User Rank
Blogger
Re: An accomplishment to get this far
Cabe Atwell   1/23/2013 3:46:06 PM
NO RATINGS
The printed audio is only surface texture. The higher the resolution printer, the better the audio quality. I suspect that in the near future almost perfect copies could be made. Or perhaps like an LP printed with CD quality audio. Either way, the future looks good for keeping the LP record around.

That's good news.

C

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: An accomplishment to get this far
Ann R. Thryft   1/25/2013 11:50:28 AM
NO RATINGS
Exactly--which tells is how good a job they did. And I'm with you on LPs--nothing beats the sound, at least for recording and playing back some things, like the subtleties of the human voice.

Cabe Atwell
User Rank
Blogger
Re: An accomplishment to get this far
Cabe Atwell   1/25/2013 4:33:46 PM
NO RATINGS
To be completely honest, I like LPs, not just for their music quality, but the packaging is big. It's cool to see the pictures larger, it's a fun novelty. But with high bit rate audio files, that surpass CD quality and approach analog, I see no practical use for LPs anymore. (Maybe the hardcore DJ business?)Think of it like integrating a curve, eventually digital will match it so fine that the difference will be indistinguishable.

Plus, one speck of dust popping the sound of an LP ruins it for me. I have a few old Beatles records that have permanent tiny scratches, playback drives me crazy.

C

Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: An accomplishment to get this far
Ann R. Thryft   1/28/2013 12:17:54 PM
NO RATINGS
Cabe, this music lover has been hearing those arguments, and promises promises, for a couple decades. For some types of music, in particular the human voice, the sound simply isn't as good. I've been sorely disappointed on that end. OTOH, instrumentals, especially strings, are great or OK on a) CDs and b) a lot of high bitrate audio files. Regarding picture size, etc.--it was a real shock back in the day to get CD versions of LPs and not be able to read anything on the covers--or later, when an "album" was initially released as a CD, and the album cover content dropped to practically zero. OTOOH, now we sometimes get inserted booklets, which can hold a lot of info.

tekochip
User Rank
Platinum
Re: An accomplishment to get this far
tekochip   1/29/2013 9:58:24 AM
NO RATINGS
When CDs were just starting to get distributed several record labels simply mastered the CD from vinyl with a hefty low pass filter to kill the pops rather than digging the 2 track master out of the vault. it was a sin, considering the wonderful technology that was available, and my old vinyl copies were much better than the CD. I had a copy of "Layla" that was just terrible until they remixed the CD from the original 16 track in 1990. Geoff Emerick, made certain that he original masters were used for the Beatles material and now you can even hear the dust on the faders (rotary back then).

Cabe Atwell
User Rank
Blogger
Re: An accomplishment to get this far
Cabe Atwell   1/29/2013 5:12:24 PM
NO RATINGS
If analog is king, will wide-format tapes make a resurgence?

C

tekochip
User Rank
Platinum
Re: An accomplishment to get this far
tekochip   1/29/2013 5:56:24 PM
NO RATINGS
Not for me, your mileage may differ.  I retired my vinyl years ago, and I'm a firm believer that the CD is king and that digital music reproduction gets a bad reputation because of squished down MP3s.  Tape has way too much hiss, except when used with DBX or other companding.  That said, I still love my old Fender tube amp, so I do believe in some retro gear.


Ann R. Thryft
User Rank
Blogger
Re: An accomplishment to get this far
Ann R. Thryft   1/31/2013 12:04:00 PM
NO RATINGS
tekochip, I didn't address that era of lousy-quality CDs, since we're thankfully past it now. I don't want to even imagine how bad "Layla" would have sounded.

Cabe Atwell
User Rank
Blogger
Re: An accomplishment to get this far
Cabe Atwell   2/1/2013 4:55:56 PM
NO RATINGS
Nevertheless, it is unfortunate to say, since 3D printing is based on digital signals, the LPs created are digital copies. In other words, less quality than they could be. In the case of preservation, It is good enough. Now it just seems silly to print an LP. I suppose it's a good option for those hipsters out there. It's all about image these days.

C

Partner Zone
More Blogs from CAD/CAM Corner
At this year’s Google I/O, the spotlight was pointed on gender inequality in the high-tech industry. Google has established a new initiative that it hopes will even out the playing field, Made w/Code. Part of this initiative will fund free online courses in basic coding.
IBM announced it is dedicating $3 billion of funding over the next five years to research and development of new processor technologies.
Micro Python is priming the presses. After smashing its Kickstarter campaign, the programming platform is almost ready to release its Micro Python boards into the public market.
Theorem Solutions recently announced the release of its newest software solution: Publish 3D. The program enables direct translation between CAD software and the PDF format, allowing engineers to spend more of their time doing what they do best -- creating.
University of Houston researchers created DermoScreen, an app that can detect skin cancer via a smartphone.
Design News Webinar Series
7/23/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
7/17/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
6/25/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
5/13/2014 10:00 a.m. California / 1:00 p.m. New York / 6:00 p.m. London
Quick Poll
The Continuing Education Center offers engineers an entirely new way to get the education they need to formulate next-generation solutions.
Aug 4 - 8, Introduction to Linux Device Drivers
SEMESTERS: 1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6


Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.
Next Class: August 12 - 14
Sponsored by igus
Learn More   |   Login   |   Archived Classes
Twitter Feed
Design News Twitter Feed
Like Us on Facebook

Sponsored Content

Technology Marketplace

Copyright © 2014 UBM Canon, A UBM company, All rights reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service