It takes usually many months to craft a koa wood ukulele, but three engineering students from Rochester Institute of Technology printed out an ukulele in just one night.
(Image: Rochester Institute of Technology)
Betsy Khol, Jeet Mehta and Joe Noble developed a 3D model of ukulele in the computer and sent it off to a 3D printer in RIT's Brinkman Lab.
"Our goal was to have something that was just one piece, so that there was no assembly required. Because it was so small to begin with, we could scale it to a size of the true instrument and hope that it would still play," says Khol, an industrial and systems engineering student.
The printer printed the scale model Using nano-ink, plastic in very fine particles, layer by layer. About midway, they changed the cartridge of black nano-ink for orange to produce the Tiger image on the face of the ukulele. The next day, they added four strings, frets and tuning pegs. In just 24 hours the students have created a scale working model of ukulele.
"You can make more complex geometries on this kind of machine because it does not require tooling, you are just layering plastic or powder," says Khol. "You can even make things with moving parts."
Instead of buying such a music instrument, you can now just print it at home. ErikJDurwoodII, designer of VEND candy dispenser, uploaded a 3D printable ukulele (named Makerlele) on Thingiverse that allows everyone to download and print their own ukulele.
This fully 3D printable ukulele (save for bolts and strings) uses an acoustic transducer to carry the lower frequency sound created by the strings to a very thin membrane on the bottom of the body. The sound is focused and projected out of channels in the body to (hopefully) create a fuller tone with reasonable amplitude.
Watch the first successful tuning and play of Makerlele in the video below. The Makerlele was printed with a Makerbot Replicator 2 in PLA plastic and strung with standard Martin Ukulele strings.
Have a look of a nice copy of the Makerlele from MarkBenson.
Posted in 3D Printing Application
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