Move Over Stradivarius! Meet the New 3D-Printed Violin

Cost-effective instruments for musicians just starting out.


Music, Innovation
Young girl playing the violin.


The world’s most famous violins were hand-crafted by Antonio Stradivari, an Italian luthier who made some 1,200 violins and sold them only to the very rich. But even for those who dream of owning a standard issue violin of their own, the violin is an expensive proposition. Now young musicians who are just getting started on the violin may be able to purchase an affordable 3D-printed version. That’s great news for music aficionados. 

An initiative by an award-winning web-based music education program for young violinists, the AVIVA Young Artists Program, the project has three goals. "The team's inspiration roots in multiple places," AVIVA Director Dr. Mary-Elizabeth Brown told EurekAlert. "Our goals were to explore the new sound world created by using new materials, to leverage the new technology being used in other disciplines, and to make music education sustainable and accessible through the printing of more durable instruments."

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Using New Materials to Produce a New Sound
According to Interesting Engineering, the violin was built in two pieces using 3D printing. In simple terms, 3D printing is a manufacturing process in which a physical object is created from a digital design by fusing together thin layers of material that are printed by the machine.

The neck and fingerboard of the violin are printed in smooth ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) plastic to provide a comfortable grip for the musicians, while the violin's body is comprised of a plastic polymer substance, much like a typical acoustic violin, and engineered to generate a resonant tone.

Once it's all put together, the instrument is said to produce a sound that's darker and mellower than that of a traditionally-built violin. As an added bonus, the AVIVA violin is also less fragile than its traditional wooden cousins.

The Cost of a Violin
Although "budget" violins for children do already exist, New Atlas reports, reasonable-quality models are typically still quite pricey. By contrast, AVIVA's 3D-printed violin will reportedly be priced in a much lower range and will include printing costs, with an additional charge to get the violin fully assembled.

The second part of the creation process involves purchasing and installing third-party non-3D printed parts such as strings, a chin rest, a tailpiece, and tuning pegs. Brown suggested to New Atlas that buying such components wholesale makes more sense than printing them all out for each build as it allows for a higher level of customization for each student.

To that end, there is a website where interested enthusiasts can sign up to explore the option of purchasing a 3D-printed violin: Print A Violin.

Not the First 3D Venture
The AVIVA violins are not the first to be 3D-printed. In 2018, when he needed a rare six-string violin to play a particular piece of music, University of Texas student Sean Riley decided to design and 3D-print a custom violin of his very own.

Working with students in other departments, Riley, who holds both a bachelor’s and a master’s in violin performance from the Juilliard School, broke the confines of a hollow-bodied, six-string version of a Stradivari with a non-traditionally designed electric violin, according to Atlas News.

Unlike Riley’s personally designed six-string instrument, the AVIVA 3D-printed violins are cookie-cutter representations of a traditional violin.

"The next step is to explore design modifications as well as efforts to lower the costs of production while making such instruments more widely available, especially in the realm of education," Brown explained to Interesting Engineering.

For musicians who understand how grueling and challenging it is to play, the introduction of a durable, lightweight, melodious 3D-printed violin can dramatically change the educational ecosystem.

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