Aug 7, 2015 | By Alec

As the potential of 3D printing extends into just about every specialism and hobby around, it is hardly surprising that it has also been used to create some truly amazing musical instruments as well. Remember this 3D printed guitar or this remarkable 3D printed melodica? While 3D printed instruments don’t always sound as good as the original instrument, one French musician has just unveiled an instrument that is amazing on all fronts. Very talented violinist Laurent Bernadac has designed and built an intricate 3D printed electric violin, that not only sounds amazing, but also truly looks stunning.

Now your first response might be, but surely I’ve seen 3D printed violins before? And you would be right, as we’ve seen several impressive examples just in the last few months. Remember this cool and very futuristic instrument? Few, however, are capable of living up to qualities of handcrafted violins, while Bernadac’s instrument definitely seems to come very close. The only caveat is that it sadly isn’t, as Bernadac believes, the world’s first 3D printed electric violin, as we saw this model only a few months ago, to give but one example.

However, that does little to diminish the amazing creation visible above. It’s designer, Laurent Bernadac, is a very talented French musician who, aside from the electric violin, is also a master guitarist and cajon player. For just a taste of his musical talent, watch some clips from him and his band OCTOBRE below.

"The 3Dvarius has been imagined by Laurent Bernadac, violinist and engineer," Géraldine PUEL of 3Dvarius told us. "We are a team of two withthis project: Laurent Bernadac and Géraldine Puel. We work together on some music projects, but it's the first time that we created a 3D printed object."

"He (Bernadac) wanted to create a violin responding to the 'strict' expectations he has as musician. His goal was to create a unique design, inspired by the shape of a traditional violin (the Stradivarius), and refining the forms and supports to obtain a more aesthetic design, that is simpler, lighter and transparent."

"Combining the precision and power of 3D-printing with ancient violin-making skills, its innovative design, in the service of violinist, marks a further step towards the perfect symbiosis between musician and instrument," Bernadac explains on his website. Based on a real Stradivarius violin, we believe this instrument – which is affectionately called Pauline – succeeds on all of these fronts.

And while its aesthetic design is hugely impressive – complete with various musicological terms covering its surface – so is the manufacturing process itself. As the musician explains, the design process first required three steps: "[Firstly] mass optimization, to keep the structure light and to free the musician’s movements, [secondly] Acoustic study and wave propagation optimization throughout the body of the instrument. [And finally] Mechanical resistance studies to ensure proper resistance to the strings’ pressure," Bernadac explains.

"The idea was born in 2012. A first prototype in polycarbonate has been created in 2013, but it was too heavy and it was really difficult to play with." PUEL told "So we decided to review it, before creating this violin with the 3D printed technology. The second and current prototype has been created in 2015 in a workshop based in the south of France."

Upon reaching a design he was happy with, Bernadac set out to 3D print Pauline in resin using SLA technology. "Our choice of 3d-printing technology is stereolithography because of its exceptional printing definition and the resistance of its printed objects," he explains. This also meant that this violin could be 3D printed in a single impressive piece, though this required the use of a industry-grade 3D printer.

"For the second prototype, the 3D printing took more than 24 hours. We worked with a subcontractor based in the south of France, they used a
SLA-3500 (using stereolithographic technology)," PUEL added.

"The violin is printed as a single piece, departing from traditional musical instrument production technology. The idea was to keep the violin light and optimally tailored to the musician's movements, ensuring that sound traveled well through the structure and the strings had the proper resistance. So the body of the violin is completely printed. Only the bridge and the tuning pegs are not printed."

Printing itself was a big success, and the complete process can be witnessed in the clip above. But as is the case with any important high quality 3D printing project, Pauline demanded quite an extensive post-printing treatment. First, in the deburring stage, the 3D printing team removed all the excess resin and support material, before using cleaning and blowing tools to get a satisfactory finish on the surface. The delicate violin was then placed in a UV oven to complete polymerization. "We realized different post processing was necessary after the printing: deburring, UV
polymerization, cleaning, etc. but the design is the result of a specific set of surface treatments," PUEL said.

While most of us would be finished at this point, Bernadac’s team subsequently put this violin through an extensive surface treatment because this is a model that is intended to be used frequently. "Surfaces in contact with the strings and the musician’s body are sanded with extreme precision to ensure sound purity and offer optimal playing comfort," Bernadac explains.

The making of.

Once that entire process was finished, the violin was assembled, which largely consists of adding the strings and electronic receivers. "This is the most delicate step, as it is the first time when the structure of the violin is subjected to actual string pressure," Bernadac says. "The stringing and tuning must be done progressively and be perfectly symmetrical to attain the perfect chord." But was it worth all the effort? While you can decide for yourself by watching the clip below, we think the 3D printed electric violin Pauline sounds absolutely divine.

Pauline being played.

Bernadac’s band OCTOBRE.

"For the moment, only the prototype that you can see in the above video exists. We want to see if the project could interest other violinists and then we might consider a commercial release," PUEL said.


Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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yzorg wrote at 8/10/2015 9:42:16 AM:

awesome!... but its gonna turn yellow after some days. all epoxys do.

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