Oct 15, 2015 | By Alec

We’ve already seen plenty of fantastic examples of what 3D printing can do when put in the hands of musicians over the last year or so, from this playful 3D printed beer bottle instrument to this seriously cool 3D printed guitar. Unfortunately, few of the high quality creations are capable of matching a store-bought instrument while also being available to a wider audience. Fortunately, the Hova couple have decided to do something about that. Husband and wife Kaitlyn and Matt Hova have recently shared their open source, 3D printable and very high quality Hovalin acoustic violin, and encourage everyone to recreate it themselves.

As the couple explains to 3ders.org, this entire project grew out of an unhappiness with existing open source instruments you can 3D print at home. Husband Matt is a former record producer and electrical engineer who works over at AutoDesk, while his wife Kaitlyn is a professional violinist, Neuroscientist, and software engineer at 3D Robotics. As Matt explains, the Hovalin has grown out of the FFFiddle, a basic 3D printed violin kit that appeared online in 2014. Designed by David Perry, this cool kit shows off what 3D printing can do, but doesn’t come close to the real thing. This to the dissapointmet of Kaitlyn when they purchased one.

‘After the initial excitement of the violin went away, Kait pointed out some things that she missed from her regular violin,’ Matt tells us. ‘I started trying to reverse engineer the FFFiddle using a program called OpenSCAD. Over the next few months, the designs got better and better, but last Christmas we ditched OpenSCAD for a better cad tool, Fusion 360. Once I started using Fusion, I was able to make more complex designs and the "Hovalin" as we started calling it started to actually look like a violin.’ And with the expert help and feedback from Kaitlyn, the Hovalin continued to grow with each iteration – about twenty or thirty in total.

But now they are ready with the Holvain v1.0 (or technically the v1.0.1), and its an impressive instrument indeed. It’s a functional violin that can be made with a standard desktop 3D printer, and costs about $70 in raw materials, while its shape is definitely reminiscent of the iconic Stradivarius. What’s more, it sounds great, as you can check out for yourself in the clip below. ‘The violin isn't as loud as a standard acoustic violin... yet, but by following in the steps of other luthiers, the goal is to iterate on the design and make it as resonant (loud) as possible,’ Matt explains.

And their goals are just as impressive as the instrument itself. As Kaitlyn explains, they are seeking to use the Hovalin to promote STEAM (STEM alongside the Arts) education and have already made the violin available to users everywhere. ‘The future is pretty bright as well. Our hope is to have the Hovalin be a way for schools to infuse 3D printing into their music program. By 3D printing their own musical instruments schools could have a way to get more funding for their music program (via STEAM grants) and create more cost effective instruments / musical accessories,’ she says. ‘Giving kids the chance to teach themselves how to use CAD and 3D printing programs empowers kids to solve problems in a creative, effective way which will create the "makers" of the future.’

If you’re interested, head over to the Hovalin website, where you can be get started. There are a few options. For just $55 you can purchase a kit that includes all the parts you need (including stings, rosin, tuner and case), and you just have to 3D print the parts yourself and assemble the instrument. ‘Making a musical instrument yourself is super gratifying. Also, the violin is more sturdy than a standard violin, and in the case that any parts should break, you can just reprint that part. Also you can print the violin in any color, including glow in the dark green,’ they tell us. Alternatively, you can also purchase a completely assembled model through their website.

If you do choose the 3D printing option, they say that machines like the Dremel Idea Builder, or the MakerBot Replicator 2 or Ultimaker 2 3D printers will do; its all about the build size. 3D printing itself is done in Hatchbox PLA filament, but any type of PLA will do. If you do choose to assemble a Hovalin with parts you have, keep an eye on the tuner, rosin and string specifications in the assembly guide as the files have been adjusted for them. The four different parts rely on different 3D printing parameters, so also keep an eye on their website for the details. All STL files can also be found there.

If all things go according to plan, you’ll end up with a fantastic violin that takes less than a 1kg of PLA to make, and looks seriously cool. If you make several, it will be good to know that this is licensed as Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike. ‘This means that you are welcome to modify and distribute the design and derivatives thereof. You must, however, maintain an open design and give credit to HOVA LLC with all derivatives and copies,’ the couple tell us.

But of course the real test is in the sound itself, which you can check out below. However, the Hovalin is also going to the stage, and will be performing at the STEAM CARNIVAL in San Francisco (November 6th to 8th). If you can, definitely check out the performance of Kaitlyn and the Hovalin in real life.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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