Makerbot Replicator 2 3D Printer Playing the Imperial March

10 Dec

If you have a 3D printer working with thermoplastics such as ABS and PLA then you have probably noticed that the device makes strange electronic noises that are different when printing various things. These noises are produced by the stepper motors that move the extruder of the 3D printer on the different axes, but you might not be aware of the fact that you can actually take advantage of this “feature” and actually use it to play music. We have tinkered a bit with some tools that are readily available and have managed to make our Makerbot Replicator 2 3D printer play the Imperial March theme from Star Wars pretty decently as you can see on the embedded video above. We are also going to tell you how we have managed to do that and point you to the tools you need to actually make your Replicator 2 or another 3D printer play various music.

The purpose of the whole process is to make a special programming for the 3D printer that takes advantage of the noise produced by the stepper motors when they move in order to recreate music. You need a MIDI file as a source with the music that you will be converting to be played on the 3D printer and with the help of the MIDI-to-CNC open source Python script from Rickard Dahlstrand to convert the MIDI music file to Gcode format that is understandable by many 3D printers. In order to make our Makerbot Replicator 2 printer play the file however we also needed to convert the Gcode file into X3G one and for that we have used the GPX gcode to x3g converter. The result is quite nice and does not take a lot of time once you get the hang of things you can experiment with different music pieces as long as you have them available in MIDI format. Do note that the MIDI-to-CNC tool is designed to actually print something while the 3D printer is playing music, but the additional conversion to make it work on the Replicator 2 3D printer is not extruding filament, just playing music.

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