Oct 27, 2016 | By Alec

If you need any reminder of how complex and functional a 3D printed object can be you only need to check out a cool 3D printed guitar, such as the amazing Heavy Metal 3D printed aluminum guitar by Swedish professor Olaf Diegel. But that doesn’t mean that you need access to metal 3D printers to build your own instrument. In fact, even a regular desktop 3D printer can create gorgeous instruments, as the 11-year-old Dane Jarvis just proved. This enterprising fifth grader 3D printed a working violin at home, and has started his very own violin 3D printing business.

This is not the first time that FDM 3D printers were used to build functional instruments. Back in 2015, Kaitlyn and Matt Hova shared their open source, 3D printable and beautiful Hovalin acoustic violin with the web. But Dane’s project is especially remarkable because this 3D printed violin was made through his own initiative and enterprising spirit.

This entire project rests on the two special interests Dane has: music and engineering, both of which are rarely seen in children his age. Dane has been studying the violin under Lisa Bayer of the Prelude String Orchestra since he was eight, and Bayer had been reading up on 3D printed musical instruments over the summer. After mentioning it to her student, the fifth grader from Fenton, Michigan, immediately started saving up his own money to buy a 3D printer. His $200 became the seed money for a $600 budget (thanks to a $400 contribution from Bayer), and the start of a violin 3D printing business.

As the business partners explained, it has been quite a trial and error process to actually 3D print the first playable violin. “We’ve been working on it since July,” said Bayer. “We got mine done first; now we’re working on Dane’s.” The chosen model is actually the Hovalin, from husband and wife team Kaitlyn and Matt Hova. Inspired by the iconic Stradivarius violin model, it perfectly captures the look a violin is supposed to have.

But as every user will tell you, acquiring a 3D printer with a certain project in mind can cause a lot of problems and will lead to the discovery that the typical 3D printing process is littered with potential pitfalls. But to his credit, Dane kept on tackling each and every glitch without giving up, and has become something of an expert. “You don’t just press a button and the violin prints. There are lots of things that can go wrong during the process. I’m just trying to stay out of his way,” Bayer said. Just take a look at how casually Dane approaches 3D printing in the clip below.

Actually 3D printing the model visible in the clip took about 24 hours in total (18 for the body alone), and several reprints. “The neck alone has 180 layers,” said Bayer. This is followed by an extensive cleaning process and sanding down all the bumps and layers. And then there’s the delicate task of stringing this plastic instrument. All in all, about half of two filament spools were used: white and green. As a result, the final model matches Bayer’s own signature Michigan State University Spartan violin.

But the results are impressive, and veteran violinist Bayer says it plays very well, with the exception that the body doesn’t vibrate loudly. “It’s a little bit quieter, that’s all,” said Bayer. “Violins tend to be super loud.” But this actually makes 3D printed violins perfect for third- through eighth-graders, who can have a hard time hearing themselves play in a classroom full of kids with no musical experience. Plus, these 3D printed instruments are more suited for use in schools than conventional violins. “They’re much more durable than a wooden violin,” said Bayer. “Plus, kids can have the fun of choosing their own colors.’”

So what’s next? Well, right now the goal is 3D printing a second model for Dane, and that would be the first step on the road to a 3D printing business. Bayer already revealed that she will act as the businessperson and coach, while Dane will take care of all research and 3D printing. Through the scheme, they are planning to charge clients $250 per violin, with about $70 of that going straight to filament costs. But even at $250, it is still way more affordable than any intermediate level violin, which start at around $600.

What’s more, the duo hopes to set up a complete Prelude String Orchestra of third- to eighth-graders, each with their own 3D printed violin. Even downsized models, that are a quarter or half-sized, are on the agenda for the youngest kids. If successful, they could use 3D printing to unleash a educational music revolution.

 

 

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The Hovas wrote at 11/14/2016 8:32:58 PM:

Looking forward to hearing more about the business! You may use the Hovalin for commercial purposes if you agree to send 10% of your gross revenue from use of the design to HOVA LLC every six months. http://www.hovalin.com/faq/



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