3D Printing Has A Sound Application
Here’s an interesting concept. Shape can block sound. Small shapes. Big sounds. Boston University created a 3D-printed ring with mathematically modeled design, shaped in such a way that it can block sound. They ran an experiment. They attached a loudspeaker focused into one end of a large PVC pipe. In the other end they placed the 3D printed ring. Even though they increased the volume to an annoying high level, the sound did not emit past the ring. The shape of the ring blocked the sound of the loudspeaker.
Two Boston University Engineers, Xin Zhang and Reza Ghaffarivardavagh realized that the typical sound baffle was large, bulky and impassable: You can’t block the back end of a jet engine because it is necessary for the functionality of the engine. So they asked the question, “Can we design a structure that can block noise but preserve air passage?”
What Is It Made of?
We don’t know what material the ring is made of – Boston University has not released this. They simply call it acoustic metamaterial. But it works! Blocking 94% of sound. Which is sufficient to make even the sound from the loudspeaker inaudible to the human ear.
The ring was printed from a design dependent on mathematical rules. FastCompany reports, “It is shaped in such a way that it can catch certain frequencies passing through the air and reflect them back toward their source.”
Imagine applying this idea to the work scene. Work cubicles need not be an isolated experience. Sound can be rejected and sent back to the source by a simple 3D printed material. Glass doors are not as efficient as the acoustical metamaterial. Nor do they allow for the passage of air. It might seem a bit odd at first that something open, allowing the passage of air, would not allow the passage of sound.
Another important application would be the growing horde of drones encircling the sky. Or that HVAC system on the roof or in the back yard or in the garage. Each 3D print would be tailored to circumstances. Based on mathematical design, that design would vary from application to application and so would the 3D printing for the application.