Are you a fan of music that is accompanied by a captivating light show? Then you’re in luck - 3D printing does it again! This time, a pair of engineers from AutoDesk teamed up with the LED technology expert start-up LumiGeek to create a pair of LED geared audio reactive speakers. Check out the video below for a glimpse of the speakers in action.



The project began with Arthur Harsuvanakit and Evan Atherton teaming up to research digital design and fabrication methods using 3D printing technology. Maurice Conti, Director of Strategic Innovation at AutoDesk, had his eyes set on directing the project to demonstrate the capability of 3D printing to rapidly manufacture finished products as opposed to its more popular use of rapid prototyping. Evan and Arthur then created a list of goals to accomplish that would result in a unique and useful end-product using an Objet Connex 500 printer capable of seamlessly printing two different materials. After settling on the materials - a hard, crystal-like plastic and a black, flexible rubber - Conti suggested their sound dampening properties would make for great speakers. The rest was history.


After several prototypes, the first of which was featured in an AutoDesk University 2012 session, the final spherical design was created. Evan utilized AutoDesk’s new 3DS Max Design 2013 software for its powerful Topology toolbox to create the complex shape and patterns in the final design. Teaming up with LumiGeek, a start-up focused on enabling LED-powered art creation, provided the finishing touches.


The LED strips lighting up the speakers outer shell are driven by LumiGeek’s Arduino compatible microcontroller that gives users the ability to define video, and hence light output, with respect to incoming audio. Each LED essentially serves as a pixel in a super-low resolution video stream. The result: super-cool looking audio reactive speakers. LumiGeek’s microcontroller is not yet available to the public, however, plans are in place to Kickstart the device in May.


Although the project’s purpose was not just to make wicked looking (and sounding) audio reactive speakers, both LumiGeek and AutoDesk successfully demonstrated the use of 3D printing to rapidly manufacture a finished product. Of course, the printer used in the design is on the expensive side - AutoDesk is a little more privileged than the average maker. However, as Conti points out, once more people have access to such powerful rapid manufacturing tools, the true essence of 3D printing will have arrived.



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