Music Drop plays your 3D-printed tunes


January 17, 2014

Music Drop offers nostalgic music lovers a chance to have a 3D-printed music box play a tune of their own making (Photo: Left Field Labs)

Music Drop offers nostalgic music lovers a chance to have a 3D-printed music box play a tune of their own making (Photo: Left Field Labs)

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In an attempt to combine the charm of an 18th century music box with current technology, Music Drop from Left Field Labs offers nostalgic music lovers the chance to have a 3D-printed music box play a tune of their own making.

Through the Music Drop website, users access a music editing interface which allows them to compose a 16 note melody. Consisting of a grid, with each row representing a different note in the scale, the tool enables users to easily create a tune which is then converted to a 3D-printable file using WebGL.

Once the notes and components are printed, the music box is then hand-assembled and shipped out to the contemporary Mozarts awaiting a finger-powered Music Drop of their very own.

Though novel and with limited production due to the nature of the hand assembling process, there appears to be a demand for audio devices that mesh new technologies with old, as evidenced by Gramovox's 1920s-inspired Bluetooth Gramophone and the Giphoscope analog GIF player.

In designing the Music Drop, Left Field Labs cast its mind back even further, disassembling several classic music boxes in order to understand the physical mechanics of the devices. Initially, the 3D-printed prototype components were ineffective, as the team found the plastic nubs representing each note couldn't withstand the pressure of a metal comb.

The company then reverted to what it calls a more classic design, involving printing the notes onto a disc spun by a gear system and relying on the casing to amplify the sound.

Initially, Left Field Labs was offering the Music Drop music box for free. However, due to a surprisingly high volume of requests, the team is not currently taking on any new orders. The company says that folks can still compose a tune and save it, and a production status will be posted in the coming weeks.

Source: Music Drop

About the Author
Nick Lavars Nick was born outside of Melbourne, Australia, with a general curiosity that has drawn him to some distant (and very cold) places. Somewhere between enduring a winter in the Canadian Rockies and trekking through Chilean Patagonia, he graduated from university and pursued a career in journalism. Having worked for publications such as The Santiago Times and The Conversation, he now writes for Gizmag from Melbourne, excited by tech and all forms of innovation, the city's bizarre weather and curried egg sandwiches. All articles by Nick Lavars

Clever! I can imagine a steady market as birthday (your very own signature tune) gifts or even, if they can improve the production and asembly systems, company jingle giveways. People already market business cards with a tiny chip that plays a jingle, why not these?

The Skud

As tech improves and it becomes possible to load more time on these, I foresee a day when the user hears "Good morning, Mr. Phelps..." and after giving the instructions the drop just melts away...


They need to make a small change in the online music editor. The notes are triggered as the moving bar enters each square.

That's not how a music box works. The notes are played as the comb fingers leave each bump.

Fill two or more successive squares and the editor plays a note for each one.

How it should work is the editor should only play a note upon the bar moving off a selected square but only if the next square isn't selected.

Selecting an entire row should produce silence, same as an entire unselected row.

Gregg Eshelman
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