Introduction: 3D Printed Sound Sculpture

In this Instructable I'll show you how to convert a beautiful piece of music to an even more beautiful piece of art.

The music part used in this project is 'I only dream of you, my beautiful' from the wonderful Muse song 'Sing for Absolution' (Absolution, 2003).

For this project I got inspired by two other great Instructable projects:

3D Data Visualization by scottkildall

Waveform Necklace & Bracelet by bzabiz

This is my very first Instructable and English is not my native language, so if there are uncertainties do not hesitate to contact me, I'd be happy to help you!


Note: if you like it, please vote for me!

Step 1: Download the Software

You will need the following software to create the 3D model:

1. An audio editor: Audacity (free)

2. A vector editor: Inkscape (free)

3. A CAD program: Autodesk Fusion 360

Of course there are plenty of other options, feel free to use the software you're comfortable with.

Step 2: The Waveform

First step is to open your desired sound file in Audacity. This can be done by importing the file or just by dragging the file into the Audacity window. Than follow next steps:

1. Select the sound part you desire.

2. Cut this part (CTRL-X) and paste (CTRL-V) it in the grey area beneath. This makes it easier to keep the exact position you want to start and end your model.

3. Zoom in/out. In this step it is important to find the balance between enough 'body' for your model as well as getting the best detail from your sound fragment.

After doing this, use the screen cutting tool (or print screen) to get the model waveform in an image format which can be used in the next step.

Step 3: Vectorization of Your Waveform

In order to be able to turn your waveform into a 3D model, it first has to be converted to a vector file which can be read by various CAD programs. For this, I use Inkscape.

1. Import your image file.

2. Select your image in the Inkscape window and click Path-Trace Bitmap (Shift-ALT-B)

3. Choose Brightness Cutoff (I use a Dutch Version, sorry if it's called otherwise) and set it until the model is solid black. Select 'Delete Background' and click OK.

4. The vectorization you just made is now on top of your original image. Drag it and delete the original one. After this save this as an .SVG file


Another possibility XTL mentioned in the comments:

Export the file from inkscape into openSCAD and save as STL.
plugin is here:

Step 4: Getting to the 3D Model

These are the last steps to finish your 3D model.

1. Open Autodesk Fusion 360 (or another CAD program).

2. Start a new sketch and choose 'Insert SVG'. Now import the file you saved in the previous step.

3. Once your vector file is imported, it will look like a regular sketch. As you can see in the images, it has to be cleaned up a little bit. You can select everything that is not supposed to be in the model and just delete it.

4. As we want to obtain a revolved model, we have to draw a line in the middle of the model. This will be the rotating axis. After this, one side of your model can be removed (we suppose the waveform to be symmetric)

5. A sketch can only be revolved when it's fully closed. Therefore you will have to manually close the model. This can be done by drawing lines or by using the 'Close loop' function. Once it's closed, it will turn yellow.

6. Now click Create - Revolve and select the surface you want to revolve as well as the axis

7. To get a .STL file from the model, go to the model three and click Body - Save as STL. This file format can be used by 3D printers.

Step 5: Get It Printed and Finish Your Artwork

My model is printed by the Belgian company Materialise, but there are plenty of suppliers that can get your model printed. You can also print it yourself, but I preferred this option because they use laser sintering, which has no need of support structures.

Once your print is finished, find a piece of wood, some varnish and a nail. As this is my first try, I forgot to make a hole in the model before printing and had to drill a hole manually. This is something I will try to avoid in the future.

Have fun building this project and feel free to share your results with me!



Note: you can also contact me trough mail (gielvandenbossche at or shout out on twitter (@gieeel)

First Time Author Contest 2016

Participated in the
First Time Author Contest 2016

3D Printing Contest 2016

Participated in the
3D Printing Contest 2016