The Music Box


My music box: finished product!

I’ve wanted to print a music box ever since my school library’s 3D printer arrived. It should be simple enough, right? According to the patterns on Thingiverse, all you need to print are the wheels and gears, a box, and the series of tines to stroke the notes when you crank it. A music box would be an awesome display piece and easy to assemble, so I thought it would be one of my easier projects over all, right?

Well, this task was easier said than done. I printed my first music box with basic PLA filament. The printing didn’t take long. I pieced it together and then started cranking. The result? Almost no sound came out, and some of the tines snapped off within two play-throughs. Ouch. It was obvious I needed to try something sturdier, so for my second attempt, I reached for my trusty T-Glase filament. T-Glase is a favorite of mine and has proven reliable in the past as a harder plastic than PLA. This new music box was a definite improvement over the last, but still had the problems of the tines breaking, and it still sounded more like snapping plastic than like a music box (although at least there was a distinct tune this time!).
So I still needed to take things up a notch. I took out the PC-Max. PC-Max is a polycarbonate plastic, which basically just means that it has industrial strength. If this didn’t work on my music box, then probably nothing could. I already had the other pieces from the T-Glase attempt, so only reprinted the frame with new tines.
The new music box works beautifully now and actually sounds musical. This was definitely a success, and if you have the right filaments I highly recommend that you try it out with a few of your favorite tunes!
Please realize, this post isn’t to discourage you from PLA or T-Glase, which both have their own unique great uses! PLA is cheap and easy to print. T-Glase has transparency and is chemically safer than the other plastic. But for music box tines, PC-Max was the way to go!

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