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3D-printed violin looks like a sci-fi sea creature

The 3Dvarius, a playable 3D-printed violin based on the legendary Stradivarius, looks like a visitor from the future.

Video screenshot by Leslie Katz/CNET

3D printing has a way of making the most ordinary objects look like alien life forms. Even the stately violin gets a dramatic, futuristic makeover when put through the 3D-printing paces.

We've seen it happen once with a strange and beautiful stringed instrument from architecture studio Monad that came out looking like a klingon weapon. Now we see it again with a transparent 3D-printed violin that looks like it would be more at home in a Mars symphony hall than the court of King Louis XIV.

This one, called the 3Dvarius, is a fully playable electric violin based on the storied Stradivarius, known for its craftsmanship and superb sound.

"Combining the precision and power of 3D printing with ancient violin-making skills, its innovative design, in the service of violinist, marks a further step towards the perfect symbiosis between musician and instrument," reads the site for the product.

French musician Laurent Bernadac designed the instrument using 3D-modeling tools. He printed the body using stereolithography, or SLA, which involves printing products a layer at a time by curing a photo-reactive liquid resin with a UV laser or similar power source. He then removed the excess resin, first manually and then using precision tools; cleaned the surface with a high-pressure blowing tool; and sanded the body into smoothness.

Then came the tricky part, stringing the violin and progressively tuning it to get just the right timbre. The result is a lightweight prototype instrument (named Pauline, by the way), whose strings can withstand the tension of being played with abandon -- and produce a pretty ear-catching sound in the process. Watch Bernadac play the crazy-looking violin of the future below.

(Via Designboom)