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(L to R) Marlena Pellegrino, Hanna Williamson, Natalie Deschesnes, Alisa Klebanov, Geena Salway [Image: Mark Holloway]

Several musicians and 3D printing enthusiasts have combined their love for both of those things by creating 3D printed musical instruments – and violins are some of the most common. These talented makers have created instruments that often sound as beautiful as their traditional counterparts – but have you ever wondered what several 3D printed violins would sound like in symphony? That’s what Laurent Lacombe, Co-Founder of Creadditive, and violin maker Charline Dequincey wanted to find out, so they spent several months 3D printing and fine-tuning eight violins for the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra will play the 3D printed instruments in a performance called 3D String Theory, which will take place on November 4th.

Composer Harry Stafylakis (left), a 3D printing technician, and soloists (L-R: Jessie Ramsay, Mary-Elizabeth Brown, and Lisa Moody) at the Industrial Technology Centre in Winnipeg where the instruments were printed. [Image courtesy of Ottawa Symphony Orchestra]

Creadditive is based in Gatineau with a satellite office in Quebec City. The company specializes in using 3D printing for things like heritage restoration, but creating eight 3D printed violins wasn’t a huge change for Lacombe.

“Whether you’re designing a part for heritage, or a mechanical part in a car, or implants in the medical field or a violin, it’s basically the same techniques,” he said.

Lacombe started by CT scanning Dequincey’s conventional violin, then converting the 2D file into a 3D model. It wasn’t quite as simple as just hitting “print” after that, though – plastic is heavier than wood, so the violins needed to be modified so as not to be too heavy. Dequincey gave regular feedback in order to achieve the best compromise between weight, design and sound.

“Honestly, the first time I heard the sound, I was really impressed,” said Lacombe.

The sound produced by the 3D printed violins isn’t identical to that produced by a traditional wooden violin, Lacombe said, but that wasn’t the goal of the project – the goal was to see what a new, digital manufacturing form could accomplish when combined with a traditional musical instrument. He doesn’t think that 3D printing will ever replace traditional handcrafting, as the sound just isn’t the same, but he does think that 3D printed violins could be valuable for entry level musicians who can’t yet afford a traditional violin.

Music is one of the oldest art forms, so it will be interesting to see how the newest technology can alter the sounds of such a traditional instrument. 3D printed violins may not replace handcrafted wooden ones, but they can bring a new dimension to them – and make more people realize that 3D printing is capable of creating something truly functional and valuable.

“People are starting to be aware that additive manufacturing is not a toy or a joke on the internet anymore,” said Lacombe.

Eight women will perform in the 3D String Theory concert.

“The discovery of alloys like bronze and brass allowed ancient music-makers to expand the possibilities of horn and wooden aerophones,” the concert website states. “The Industrial Revolution introduced new materials and manufacturing processes that helped to redesign instruments like the piano, brass, and woodwinds so that they could play more notes—faster and louder. And as these capacities for shaping sound have grown and changed, so too has composers’ capacity for musical expression. 3D StringTheory explores how today’s new technologies, like 3D printing, can further expand musical boundaries.”

You can buy tickets for 3D String Theory here.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below.

[Source: Ottawa Business Journal]

 

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