The virtually endless flexibility of 3D printing can be used as a very powerful tool for musical research and for the development of new instruments:
• Replicas of museum instruments for test and analysis.
• Reconstruction of partially lost or damaged historical instruments.
• Development of new or custom-made musical instruments.
• Production of custom-made tools for research.
• Scaled up/down replicas of museum instruments in order to reach modern standard pitches, which allows them to be used in concert.
• Interpolation and mix of different models for experimentation (e.g. inner bore of a certain instrument together with the holes of a different one).
• Cheaper production costs in relation to traditional methods, which allows for more copies and more tests, while every copy remains equally precise.
• Possibility for several researchers and players to work on the same instrument, even worldwide, both as 3D-model and as physical instrument.
• Virtual analysis of the 3D-model meets practical acoustical tests on the 3D-printed instrument, allowing for a deeper understanding of how an instrument works.
• Changes, corrections and modifications of an instrument can be quickly done and tested once a 3D-model has been made. Research and tests don’t start from scratch anymore while the iteration cycle becomes quicker and cheaper.
In other words, many of the tools music researchers have been dreaming for centuries of having are now available.