Data Visualization, Sonification, and Materialization

3-D Printing of Acoustic Bowls – PSU Learning Factory Spring 2017

3-D printing simultaneously extends the possibilities for data visualization and sonification. Digital fabrication processes allow for printing of custom-designed objects with special properties. The goal of this project is to 3-D print a set of “ceramic bowls” that have both unique shape and acoustic properties. (1) Bowl Acoustics. When struck with a drum mallet many bowls produce resonant sounds, ringing with particular tones and for specific duration. Advances in printing with mixed materials may further allow that different sections of the same bowl may resonate in different ways. Like steel-pan drums ( often used in reggae music, different portions of the inner surface of the bowl might thus be tuned for different resonances. (2) Bowl Shape. Curvature and depth of bowls can be represented as a set of radial basis mathematical functions, the parameters of which can be driven by empirical data (e.g., In the same way that 2-d graphs are used to “visualize” data, 3-D bowls provide new opportunity to “materialize” data (e.g., create data sculpture).

Project Objective: Design and 3-D print a set of acoustic bowls that have different acoustic properties and whose shape is defined by an empirical data stream provided by the sponsor. The bowls should be relatively lightweight (transportable) and suitable for (a) display in both technical and sci-art gallery settings and (b) use in live musical performance.

Project Deliverables: 1. A description of how the bowls embody the empirical data and invoke acoustic resonance. 2. Detailed design documentations of the 3-D printing production process. 3. Software code developed. 4. Prototype bowls and a demonstration of their functionality.


Team: Derek McBlane, Terry Kowalskyj, Mo Shi, Chango Zhang, Mohammed Albassami

Sponsors: Nilam Ram & Tim Simpson