May 18, 2016 | By Tess

Over the past couple years 3D printing has expanded into many fields and areas, even as far as the manufacturing of musical instruments. We’ve seen a number of stunning and musically innovative 3D printed instruments be created by a number of individuals, such as Monad Studio’s 3D printed MULTI Instruments, and 3DLI’s 3D printed sitar and tabla drums. Though beautiful and musically sound, 3D printed instruments have largely remained off the market, existing as novelties and only being played on special occasions, that is, until now. One of the most popular 3D printed instruments, a futuristic looking 3D printed electric violin designed and perfected over the years by French violinist and engineer Laurent Bernadac, has just launched on Kickstarter.

The electric 3D printed violin, called 3Dvarius, has received much recognition since its unveiling last year as it has been featured on a number of news programs and Bernadac’s own electric violin covers (such as the X-Files theme song, and U2’s With or Without You) have been moderately popular on Youtube. Even Hugh Jackman, of Wolverine fame, was presented with a performance by Bernadac on a Spanish talk show last year.

The versatile instrument, which can be used as an electric violin as well as for percussion, was based on the design of a real Stradivarius violin, one of the most renowned violins in history. Of course, as you can tell by looking at it, the 3Dvarius is not a classical violin, as its design has been worked and reworked by Bernadac to make the instrument’s structure almost symbiotic with the musician. Printed in a solid piece using stereolithography (SLA) 3D printing processes, the 3Dvarius' body was designed for optimal sound-wave flow and offers a high level of control to the musician playing it.

The 3D printed instrument’s body has been modified from a regular electric violin in a number of ways, including removing the head of the instrument to move the center of gravity closer to the shoulder for enhanced comfort, placing the jack close to the instrument’s bridge to decrease the signal travel time and to limit radio disruptions, placing the tuning pegs underneath the structure to reduce weight and facilitate tuning, and removing the preamp to keep the sound as faithful as possible. All of these adjustments have helped to make the 3Dvarius a lightweight, high-quality, and ergonomic instrument.

Bernadac, who began to design the 3D printed violin in 2012, has opted to use SLA technologies to manufacture it because of the high level of precision the technology offers. According to the musician/engineer, one violin takes a whole 24 hours to print, and then requires a number of manual finishing processes. As he explains on the Kickstarter page, after printing is done, all of the supports are manually removed from the violin, and then the instrument’s body is cleaned with a solution and a high pressure blowing technique. Once cleaned, any surface of the instrument that comes into contact with either the strings or the musician’s body are carefully hand sanded to created as smooth a surface as possible, ensuring comfort and high-quality sound. Of course, it is impossible to 3D print the violin strings, so those must then be installed by hand with careful attention payed to string pressure and tuning.

The Kickstarter campaign for the 3Dvarius, which has a goal of €50,000, will run until June 17th. Of course, as one can imagine a pledge of €15 euros won’t get you your own 3D printed violin, but it will get you Laurent Bernadac’s CD, a 3Dvarius sticker and a Founding Family credit. For a pledge of €119 you will get access to a private concert in Paris (plus a t-shirt, CD, and sticker), for €149 you will receive a 3D printed miniature version of the 3Dvarius, for €499 you will receive a masterclass with Bernadac on top of the private concert and other extras. To receive the actual 3Dvarius, you’ll have to shell out €6,229 for the early bird special, and €6,499 for the instrument’s regular price. Though it is admittedly pricey, the amount of time and innovation that has gone into the 3D printed instrument, as well as its awesome sound, will surely appeal to music enthusiasts and violinists. If the goal of €50k is reached, the funding will go towards paying for materials (including transparent resin), minimum orders on parts and build, and production.

To hear the 3Dvarius being played, check out the video below:



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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