Courtesy Olivier van Herpt

Spatial sound designer Ricky van Broekhoven and designer Olivier van Herpt are using 3D printing to make sound tangible. The idea was conceived when van Herpt noticed a glitch in his 3D ceramic printer, wherein motor resonance led to the natural formation of moiré patterns on the objects he was creating. Instead of fixing the error, he decided to keep it and experiment with how sound waves could impact the fabrication of a solid object.

Courtesy Olivier van Herpt

Enter van Broekhoven. The Dutch designer works at the intersection of architecture and sound, including abstract noise-landscapes that aim to audibly shape a space, making him a fitting collaborator for van Herpt's experiment.

Courtesy Studio van Broekhoven

Together, the pair developed Solid Vibration, a series of semi-custom, 3D printed ceramic vessels. Using a custom speaker rig placed under the printer's build platform, van Broekhoven applies low frequency sound waves that gently vibrate the ceramic as it's being extruded. The effect is spontaneous rippling patterns throughout. The printer is able to produce objects up to 70 centimeters (about 27.5 inches) tall in an hour. And because the combination of sound waves and the rhythm of extrusion is never the same twice, each piece is unique.

Courtesy Olivier van Herpt
Courtesy Olivier van Herpt

Watch the video below to see the full process:


This article is part of a series of weekly spotlights covering the latest in innovative products and materials. Read more of ARCHITECT's Object of the Moment coverage here.