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New spin on an old romance: Latest Sonneteer creation lets you print your own records in your own home!

  • Latest stereolithography 3D printer technology lets music lovers to recreate their favourite LPs.
  • LP Creation Software available for free, but you still have to buy the music!

We are back to the old with the latest 3-D printing technology created by the amazing chaps at Sonneteer allowing you to produce your own records at home. You can 3D print anything from the Beatle’s 1st Album to your own version of “Now that’s what I called…” compilation LPs to your heart’s content.

vinyl comeback

Vinyl’s coming back but not as we know it

Vinyl’s coming back, but not as we know it!

Sonneteer, writing on their website said: ‘We recently revisited our old record collection and sadly we have found that some of the older LPs were in a bit of a bad state! With LP’s there are no ways to repair them, and with so many of them being out of print there are no ways to replace them ether!… Or is there? We wondered. “We could use a laser cutting machine to…” but apart from Sonneteer’s (ever so slightly eccentric) co-founder Remo Casadei, who else would be dreaming of having such a machine in their own home? We then looked at some other manufacturing processes available and thought, why not just print it?

We had long considered using 3D printing technology in the past to create some of our products like the Bard Wireless audio system, whereby the technology requires the cases to be made in polymer to allow wireless transmission. However, all the earlier “3D” AM (Additive Manufacturing) machines weren’t actually true 3D, they were in fact 2-D printing machines, capable of printing one layer on top of another and the results were refined enough. So we set out in search of a better way to achieve the results we wanted.

 

laser cut vinyl

Once formed, the second laser “cuts” the music “grooves” and you can then play it on your record player like a normal record – via the Sonneteer Sedley phono stage of course!
Insert: 3DDS in action (note twin laser tubes)

Once formed, the second laser “cuts” the music “grooves” and you can then play it on your record player like a normal record – via the Sonneteer Sedley phono stage of course!

Insert: 3DDS in action (note twin laser tubes)

After spending several months discussing with 3-D printer makers around the world, we pinned down a two-tier process called “3-D-D Stereolithography”, or “Three-Double-D”. This new twin laser process would basically construct the main object body via the first guided laser beams to quickly solidify the liquid polymer into the basic shape (i.e. the record body), and then use the second ultra-fine laser beam to create the details (i.e. the sound tracks grooves) at a precision far greater than any gas-laser cutter can ever achieve. Also, as all the shaping and cutting are done at room temperature the final object will not suffer from temperature related distortion issues, and for the same reason, no annealing process is required to prevent future crazing either.

What about the software? Well, it is surprisingly simple as the open-sourced free software basically loads a music file just like any computer music player but with a difference: You also get a PRINT button! So now not only can you press PLAY to listen or preview your creation, you can also press PRINT which sends the file to the printer to, literally, print yourself a hard copy! The free to download software accepts most popular audio formats such as MP3, WMA etc., and the Pro version accepts high resolution formats such as WAV, DVD-A, DSD etc. Being open source means any developer can also incorporate their own ideas offering additional features for the future too!

One thing most curious, even though the files are digital, the output grooves are actually analogue as they are carved by a continuously moving single laser beam, and then mechanically low-pass filtered in the solidifying polymer. After hundreds of hours of listening by our panel of judges, they all agreed that the playback sounded distinctively analogue too!

So, are the printed records black in colour too? Sadly not yet as the highest resolution polymer currently comes only in indigo, but who says the technology will stop here? This is the only beginning and Sonneteer believe apart from printing black LPs, we will soon be printing picture discs too!

 

3DDs software in operation. You can set different LP thickness too… 180g Vinyl here we come!

3DDs software in operation. You can set different LP thickness too… 180g Vinyl here we come!

3DDs software in operation. You can set different LP thickness too… 180g Vinyl here we come!

We’d like to thank Remo Casadei, Technical Director and one of the Sonneteer founders for help with this article.