3D printed drums


Junior Member
Hi all, I've been lurking here for a number of years and thought it's time I started a conversation. I had an idea while lying in bed recently which to my mind seemed very interesting. 3D printed drum shells. While I'm certainly no expert on this technology, with a little imagination the possibilities seem amazing. A quick search found a little information on this subject. http://3dprintedinstruments.wikidot.com/ and http://www.shapeways.com/ have some good info but no one seems to actually have created any yet, which is surprising considering the ease of manufacture and creative potential. Shells with 3D carved designs of just about anything you want like geometric patterns or fractals over the entire surface or designs from the natural world. Integrated/redesigned lugs etc. What are your thoughts?


Gold Member
Great idea for a first post Nat!
I think it's only a matter of time before we see 3D prints of just about anything- they're printing guns for God's sake (sure they'll blow up in your hand more often than not but they still technically work)!
Not too mention printing human body parts/ organs, seems like printing some drum shells wouldn't be that much of a stretch...


Silver Member
I actually joked about this to my friend when someone was going on about how great these 3D printers were.

They are very clever. However, it's going to come down to the sound and if they can really make a competitive sounding drum from whatever material it is they use. Could it really stand up to maple?

If you were triggering this could be ideal. When the price of these things come down that is...


Silver Member
I know there are some companies even 3D printing guitars these days. Though, the ones I've seen look pretty cheap and lame.

I imagine that 3D printing could make acrylic type shells cheaper to make and more readily available.


Platinum Member
As I understand it, the great thing about 3D printing is its ability to produce complex objects without setting up tooling. As such, I can't see the point of printing a drum shell, which is a fairly simple thing to manufacture.

Where I can see scope for 3D printing is in producing things like lugs, snare throw-off mechanisms, hat clutches and so on.


Junior Member
I don't see this as replacing wood shells or plain acrylic shells. I was thinking more on the creative side and wanting a kind of modern version of the hand carved drums out of Africa and Asia. Kinda like a new take on this imagesCACFN5MX.jpg
but much more intricate. I'd like to see dense geometric patterns or designs like that of M.C Escher carved into the shell. What about band logos etc? It's only limited by your imagination. As far as materials go and whether it stands up against our traditional wood shells, I don't think it would be better or worse, just different. We already use synthetic heads, why not shells?


Senior Member
I am in the high performance audio industry. VPI, a long established manufacturer of turntables, recently introduced a "printed" tone arm! I saw it and heard it recently and it is very impressive. It has many technical and sonic advantages over the same model tone arm made of discreet parts that are connected together. The main disadvantage is that it is presently much more costly to produce.

A drum can also be "printed" with all of the lugs and most of the other hardware parts as a single piece. An advantage over drum shells with hardware bolted on which usually damps resonance and sustain. At this time, it would be very, very expensive.

In time, printing technology will advance even further and prices will come down.


Platinum Member
Since printing technology now has the ability to create different densities at different points in an object, the possibilities are endless in trying to recreate the "randomness" that creates the perfect coloration from a great piece of wood. If someone ever figures it out, no duds. And eventually, the properties of whatever materials at whatever points you want. Probably happen around the same time they come up with a computer with the density of the human brain though.

I can see where you can do really great things with differential densities to damp things like tonearms though. Haven't followed high end audio in awhile. Glad to see that VPI is still forging ahead.