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3D Printing for Manufacturing Antique and Modern Musical Instrument Parts

[+] Author Affiliations
Frank Celentano, Nicholas May, Edward Simoneau, Richard DiPasquale, Zahra Shahbazi, Sina Shahbazmohamadi

Manhattan College, Riverdale, NY

Paper No. IMECE2016-66652, pp. V014T07A003; 8 pages
  • ASME 2016 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 14: Emerging Technologies; Materials: Genetics to Structures; Safety Engineering and Risk Analysis
  • Phoenix, Arizona, USA, November 11–17, 2016
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5068-8
  • Copyright © 2016 by ASME


Professional musicians today often invest in obtaining antique or vintage instruments. These pieces can be used as collector items or more practically, as performance instruments to give a unique sound of a past music era. Unfortunately, these relics are rare, fragile, and particularly expensive to obtain for a modern day musician. The opportunity to reproduce the sound of an antique instrument through the use of additive manufacturing (3D printing) can make this desired product significantly more affordable. 3D printing allows for duplication of unique parts in a low cost and environmentally friendly method, due to its minimal material waste. Additionally, it allows complex geometries to be created without the limitations of other manufacturing techniques. This study focuses on the primary differences, particularly sound quality and comfort, between saxophone mouthpieces that have been 3D printed and those produced by more traditional methods. Saxophone mouthpieces are commonly derived from a milled blank of either hard rubber, ebonite or brass. Although 3D printers can produce a design with the same or similar materials, they are typically created in a layered pattern. This can potentially affect the porosity and surface of a mouthpiece, ultimately affecting player comfort and sound quality. To evaluate this, acoustic tests will be performed. This will involve both traditionally manufactured mouthpieces and 3D prints of the same geometry created from x-ray scans obtained using a ZEISS Xradia Versa 510. The scans are two dimensional images which go through processes of reconstruction and segmentation, which is the process of assigning material to voxels. The result is a point cloud model, which can be used for 3D printing. High quality audio recordings of each mouthpiece will be obtained and a sound analysis will be performed. The focus of this analysis is to determine what qualities of the sound are changed by the manufacturing method and how true the sound of a 3D printed mouthpiece is to its milled counterpart. Additive manufacturing can lead to more inconsistent products of the original design due to the accuracy, repeatability and resolution of the printer, as well as the layer thickness. In order for additive manufacturing to be a common practice of mouthpiece manufacturing, the printer quality must be tested for its precision to an original model. The quality of a 3D print can also have effects on the comfort of the player. Lower quality 3D prints have an inherent roughness which can cause discomfort and difficulty for the musician. This research will determine the effects of manufacturing method on the sound quality and overall comfort of a mouthpiece. In addition, we will evaluate the validity of additive manufacturing as a method of producing mouthpieces.

Copyright © 2016 by ASME



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