Man playing 3D printed violin

3D-Printing Shakes Up History of Violins

Stradivarius, Schmadavarius. A French engineer has cracked the code to designing the ultimate musical instrument, and you don't need millions of dollars to own one.

There are many theories as to how the Stradivari family got their violins and other string instruments to sound as pure and prodigious as they do, from how the family treated the wood to the 17th century "mini Ice Age" affecting the raw materials' density. There's no mystery behind how French engineer/musician Laurent Bernadac created his electric violin, the 3Dvarius, as enthralling to look at as it is to listen to.

It was 3D printing, of course.

The 3Dvarius, a 3D-printed electric violin.
Photo: Thomas Tetu

The 3D printing process allowed the  entire body to be created as one piece, and it was constructed on a computer, providing several musical advantages, according to 3Dvarius:

  • Mass optimization keeps the structure light, freeing the musician’s movements.
  • Acoustic study and wave propagation are optimized throughout the body of the instrument
  • Mechanical resistance studies ensure proper resistance to the strings’ pressure

Bernadac, also a guitarist and drummer, digitally designed the 3Dvarius in 2012, and was holding a prototype under his chin a year later. On May 18, he is launching a Kickstarter campaign so his company can begin manufacturing them. After hearing this translucent fiddle, you may think Bernadac won it in a duel with the devil.

As cool as that would be, the real way is equally impressive.

Stereolithography, which cures each layer of the printed object's resin with a UV laser, was used "because of its exceptional printing definition and the resistance of its printed objects," the company website says.

After the body is printed, excess resin is removed manually and by precision tools. Then a cleaning solution and high pressure air are applied to clean it. UV light then polymerizes the structure for extra protection. Before final assembly, any surface contacts that touch strings are sanded for the best sound and ultimate comfort.

There's no info yet on how much one of these will cost, but it will definitely be cheaper than an actual Stradivarius, which can cost up to $20 million.

TAGS: 3D Printing
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