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3D printer plays the 'Imperial March' from 'Star Wars'

It turns out that 3D printers can serve double duty as pretty good musical instruments. Who knew?

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The Dark Lord looks pleased. Video screenshot by Michael Franco/CNET

You likely already know that you can use a 3D printer to create your very own Imperial Army of miniature stormtroopers. But did you realize that you could also use that very same printer to play their theme song? Neither did I.

But, according to 3DPrint.com (and a story we did last year), there's a growing movement of people out there who are hacking their 3D printers to turn the normal sounds of their motors into compositions ranging from the Mario Bros. theme song to, yes, the "Imperial March" from "Star Wars."

"By hacking a simple MIDI file, and then outputting a Gcode which will produce the same frequencies and duration of each note within the music, the stepper motors are able to put out quite an incredible ensemble," says Heidi Milkert at 3DPrint.com. The stepper motor moves the print head around in a 3D printer, and as it does its job, it makes quite a racket. But clearly, one man's racket is another's symphony.

If you're interested in learning how to compose music with your 3D printer, this site, called "Outguessing The Machine," offers a good starting point, Milkert says. "Basically, it's possible to compute a combination of (distance, feedrate) along an axis that will cause the stepper motor for that axis to spin at an exact frequency corresponding to a musical note," says the site. "With a little vector magic, the same can be done for (x, y, z, feedrate) to produce chords as the machine follows a 3D line through space."

That's all way above my head. I think it's fun to just sit back, relax, listen to the motor music and just pretend it's all being controlled by the Force. You?