Soundwave Vase




Introduction: Soundwave Vase

About: Maker in the making :-)

One thing that always strikes us as untouchable is sound : it's all over our world, fills our memories, our day-to-day lives, and allows us to express ourselves, but as soon as those waves have traveled to our ears, they're gone. So I though I'd try and offer you a way to keep the sounds that you cherish and be reminded of them without having to hear them again.

Note : there are now 2 designs for this instructable, the one on the left of the cover picture should be easier to print on a FDM 3D printer (see step 9 for more detail)

Step 1:

Step 2: Choose and Record Your Sound

The first step is to choose the sound that you want to keep : for demonstration purposes I downloaded an audio file of someone saying "I love you" but you can choose any sound you want, as long as you can have an audio file for it.

Once you've chosen, the first thing you're going to want to do is get a visual representation of that sound : for that purpose I've used ocenaudio (available on MacOS, Windows and quite a few flavors of Linux) but you can use the software of your choice (Audacity works very well too).

As you'll see in the screenshots, I first created an empty mono track and then opened the recorder audio. I selected and copied the part that I wanted to keep, and pasted it on the new track. Depending on the sound you chose and the software that you're using, you might have to play with the controls a little : the goal is to end up with a wave that you're happy with.

Once that's done, just take a screenshot of it and move on to the next step !

Step 3: Editing the Image

Using your software of choice, open the image and try to make it as simple/crisp as possible, by cropping it so that you only keep what's interesting for you, and playing with the contrast/saturation so that you end up with a black and white picture.

Save the picture in its original format.

Step 4: Making a Vector Image

For this part I've used Inkscape but it might be possible to acheive the same result with other softwares. Import the image and select it, and choose "Trace Bitmap" from the "Path" menu.

You will be presented with a preview window : what you want is for the live preview on the right to look like your original image as much as possible. Once that's done, click OK and the popup will disappear.

You know have two objects in your document : your original image and a vector version of it, so you can now safely delete the original one.

We now have a vector image of our soundwave, except that it's actually the inverted version of what we want, since the image was white on a black background. To fix that, draw a green rectangle on top of the image, select it and go to "Shape", "Object to shape". Select both the rectangle and the image and go to "Shape", "Difference".

You will be left with a green version of your image, that we will now edit !

Step 5: Modifying the Soundwave

To make the image symetrical, select the path and duplicate it ("Edit" menu, "Duplicate"). Flip that copy vertically ("Object" menu) and try to align the two soundwaves. Once that's done, select them both and go to "Path", "Union". You'll end up with a single wave, like in the first image.

Since we want to make a vase out of this, we now want to get rid of all the space inside the wave and only keep the outline : select the path and break it apart ("Path" menu, "Break apart"). You'll be left with one, two, or in my case three bigger paths and smaller ones in the middle. Select the ones you want to keep (in my case I discarded the one from the right) and move them so that you can select everything else on the page and delete it. If like me you have multiple pieces, just select one of them and move it a little closer to the next one so that they overlap : you should now be able to merge them using "Path", "Union" as before.

At this point I recommend you change the color of the resulting path so that you're sure you only keep what you want

Step 6: Tweaking the Image

If your audio software is anything like mine, you'll have plenty of peaks on your wave : although that's more accurate, we will now try to smooth it all out. To do so, select the path and go to "Path", "Offset". Do this as many times as you like, until you have a shape that looks vase-worthy but still looks like the original soundwave.

Now focus on the left hand side of your design, since that will end up being the bottom of your vase : double click the path to enter the edit mode. You can now move, add or delete nodes as you like. In my case I selected the few nodes I had on the left and deleted them (by just pressing delete after selecting them) so that I end up with a long segment. Once you've come up with a segment long enough for the vase to sit on, select it so that its two nodes are highlighted (in blue, like in the picture). Go to the "Object" menu, "Align and transform" and a menu will appear. Choose the first button of the last row (circled in the picture) and the two nodes will vertically align.

You're now ready to import this into Fusion 360 !

Step 7: Importing Into Fusion 360

In Fusion 360, click the "Import SVG" button in the main toolbar and select your file. You will be prompted to choose a plane for sketching, pick the vertical one like in the picture.

After importing your design, trace a vertical line in the center of it and exit the sketch.

In the "Create" menu, select "Revolve" : a dialog will ask you to choose a profile. Pick one half on the design, and when prompted to choose an axis, click on the vertical line you just drew. The default option should work fine but otherwise, make sure you enter 360 in the angle field, and "New body" in the operation dropdown menu.

You should end up with something that's starting to look more and more like a vase !

Step 8: Making Room for Flowers

Now is a good time to see inside the vase : in the "Inspect" menu, choose section analysis, and select the vertical plane. You will be rewarded with a section view of your object.

As you can see our object is full and it's not possible to put a flower in it just yet !

You have many different options for the next step : if your design is like mine and gets really narrow at some point, the easiest thing to do is to go the cylinder route. If however your design is more forgiving and allows for a wider opening, you can use the "hole" tool or the "shell" tool to empty your object. Either way the section view will show you exactly what's going on.

To use a cylinder like a did, start a new sketch on the top or your vase so that your sketch plane is parallel to the floor. Draw a circle narrow enough that it is smaller than the narrowest part of the vase. Once that's done exit the sketch and press "E" to enter the extrude mode. Select the circle you juste created and drag it towards the bottom of the vase, making sure that the "Cut" operation is selected. Don't go all the way to the bottom of the vase or you will end up with a pipe instead !

Step 9: You're Done !

I hope you enjoyed this instructable and that it helped you make something you like. I have yet to print my vase (a single flower vase might I add) but I'm really curious to see what you come up with depending on the sounds you choose.

For the printing part, you can either have the vase printed in SLS plastic first (at Shapeways for example) and/or in Ceramics. If you plan to print it on a FDM printer, however, it might be better to cut it in half and print each half with the cut on the print bed, so that you don't need any supports. But might be able to avoid that when editing the piece in Inkscape so that you can print it in one piece.

Either way let me know in the comments and thanks for reading !

Step 10: ​Bonus : Alternative Design

As you can see in the previous steps, the final form of our vase depends a lot on the wave we create it from : I wanted to change that and come up with a solution that would allow you to choose the dimensions of your vase more freely while still retaining the customized spirit of it all.

Go back to inkscape and double click the path to edit it : select all the nodes from the bottom of the drawing and delete them. After that you should be left with a curve instead of the bottom half of the path : select that curve so that its two endpoints are highlighted, and click on the "Delete segment from non endpoint nodes" from the toolbar. After that, select those two points and align them horizontally like we did earlier : the idea is to have the profile of our curve starting and ending at the same height. (see picture 1 - I have removed the fill color of the curve for clarity but you don't need to do that)

For the next step you will need to use Illustrator (or at least, I haven't found a way to do it without it) : save your file in Inkscape and open it inside Illustrator. Select the curve we just edited. Go to the "Object" menu and select Envelope Distort, Make with Warp. A dialog should open : select Arc as the style, and set the bend to 100% so that you have a half circle. You can also play with the distortion settings to shape the curve (picture 2).

Once that's done, save your design (as svg) and open it in Inkscape : duplicate (crtl + d) the half circular path, flip the second copy and move it so that the two form a circle, but with a little overlapping (see picture) and expand them until you have a profile you're happy with. You can then select the two paths and join them like we did before, . While you're there, trace a circle that will be the opening (mouth) of our vase : try to place it so that it has the same center as our curve or just use the align tools (in the toolbar, see picture).

Once you're happy, you can save and close Inkscape.

Step 11: Back to Fusion

Inside Fusion, create a new sketch on the horizontal plane and click Insert SVG from the menu (while in sketch mode). Browse to your design and import it.

Exit sketch mode and create an offset plane : select the sketch we just created as a reference and enter the height that you want your vase to have (somewhere between 10cm and 20cm seems fine). Once you've created the plane, create a sketch on it. You should see the geometry from the other sketch behind : click "P" (as in "Project" and select the opening : you will now have a copy of its geometry and should be able to reference it. Pick the Circle tool and create a circle with the same center as the projected opening but a little smaller (this is a matter of personal preference). Exit sketch mode.

One last thing we have to do in 2D before creating our vase : go back to our original sketch, double click it to enter sketch mode. Select the circle that we created in the middle (the opening of the vase) and in the sketch palette on your left click on "Construction" : this will allow us to select the whole face when creating the vase rather than the portion between our curve and the circle.

Now that's done, the only profiles you should see are the soundwave curve and the circle at the bottom : the others should show as a dotted orange line (please note that my screenshots are not accurate as I haven't followed the steps in that order, but realized afterwards it was much easier to do it that way).

Go to the "Create" menu and choose "Loft", the popup will ask you to select some profiles : select the top and bottom profile and you should end up with something like what I have in picture 3.

Press enter to create the body : you can now go back to our first sketch and switch the opening circle back to a regular line (by clicking construction as you did earlier). Exit sketch mode and create an offset plane, taking the bottom of the vase as a reference and adding a few centimeters (1.5 seems like a minimum). Project the bottom of the vase on that plane, draw a smaller circle and exit sketch mode (picture 4).

Like previously, create a new loft and select the two circles but make sure to change the operation to "Cut" rather than new body (although Fusion will probably do it for you).

Click enter and you should be done : you can create a section plane like we did before to make sure everything's in order (see my last picture).

This vase should be much easier to print (I believe you'll be able to print it without raft or supports) and the added bonus is that you can really tweak its dimensions by going back to Fusion : you can adjust the height of the vase, the width of its walls (by creating your circles bigger or smaller). Should you want to change the diameter of the vase, you can select the body and scale it (go for a non uniform scale and choose the same factor for the X and Y axis while not touching the Z axis).

Have fun !

Untouchable Challenge

Runner Up in the
Untouchable Challenge

Invention Challenge 2017

Participated in the
Invention Challenge 2017

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    Widget Wiz 3D
    Widget Wiz 3D

    5 years ago

    Congratulations on your win! Very unique and creative!


    Reply 5 years ago

    Thank you so much but unfortunately a few hours after I completed the shipping form for the prize I received an email telling me there was a "technical issue" and that I had not won the contest so ..
    Anyways, glad to know you liked it, especially coming from you since your entry was really impressive !

    Widget Wiz 3D
    Widget Wiz 3D

    Reply 5 years ago

    I'm very sorry to hear that! Keep doing the things that are unique and different!! Take care

    Wizard of Oz r45
    Wizard of Oz r45

    5 years ago

    Really neat and cool idea!!!!!


    Reply 5 years ago

    Thank you for your kind words ! I submitted this instructable to the Untouchable contest, feel free to vote for it if you want to show your support :-)