3D Printing Technology Making Instruments of Past and Present

At University of Connecticut, Robert Howe, a medical director of Maple Street Medical Group in East Longmeadow, Mass.and a current Ph.D. candidate in UConn’s School of Fine Arts. He shared his ideas with his doctoral advisor, Richard Bass, professor of music theory in the Department of Music, and the two have since orchestrated an unprecedented collaborative effort between musicians and engineers at the University, using a technology typically exclusive to medical science – micro-computed tomography – to explore the makeup of 18th- and 19th-century musical instruments.

[blockquote author=”Richard Bass” pull=”normal”]It could be a security method for instruments. For example, if we could make 3-D images or copies of some essential parts of an instrument and it gets stolen, we could verify it’s that instrument if it turns up somewhere else.[/blockquote]

Below video shows how it’s done and a demonstration using original musical instruments manufactured by Adolphe Sax and authentically-designed mouthpieces.

(Source: University of Connecticut)

In Europe, the world’s first ever 3D-printed rock ‘n roll band takes stage in Sweden by a team of students and professors at Lund University.

Diegel has been 3D printing since the mid-90s, but only started printing musical instruments two years ago. One of the reasons he does it is to draw attention to the fact that the technology already has real life applications beyond just prototypes.

[blockquote author=”Professor Olaf Diegel” pull=”normal”]3D printing allows me to make complex shapes that are impossible to do any other way. I can also tailor instruments very precisely for musicians who want their instruments custom-made[/blockquote]

According to Diegel, musicians are very creative, but also very conservative, so their reactions have been interesting. They first approach what is essentially a plastic guitar with suspicion. Then, when they have a play with it, they’re amazed that it sounds and plays like a high quality electric guitar.

Diegel has been involved with 3D printing for nearly two years and uses the process to demonstrate that there is real world practicality in the medium.

Diegel is seeking to expand his creative process and is currently looking into 3D printing of woodwinds in the near future.

(Source: Lund University)

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