The possibility of 3D printed reeds

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outofthebox8
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The possibility of 3D printed reeds

Post by outofthebox8 » Wed Mar 30, 2016 5:48 am

Just wondering if there had been any developments in 3D printing of double reeds? In theory this should be possible. A suitable material could be used to print a reed, based on a detailed scan of a good cane double reed. If detail and reproduction were fine enough, the finished reed should not require any further modification - shouldn't even require a separate bridle or a staple. I would expect to see any such development first in the classical instrument world - starting simply with printed single clarinet reeds and then moving on to double reeds.

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djm
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Re: The possibility of 3D printed reeds

Post by djm » Thu Mar 31, 2016 4:44 am

Not likely. A reed is made of more than one type of material, each material having its own characteristics. Consider just the cane portion. The cane is made up of at least two different types of material, one stiff and appearing as individual fibre strands, surrounded by a softer, more flexible element (lignum). The stiff fibres are randomly placed and spaced, but more abundant towards the outer bark. You would have to have a printing process that could not only print more than one material at a time, but be able to place these differing elements within each other at a microscopic level.

There are also 3D printers that work in powdered metals. I suppose there might be some value in a perfectly reproduced staple, but I have never seen one of these printers that worked at such a small scale or able to produce something as thin as a staple.

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outofthebox8
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Re: The possibility of 3D printed reeds

Post by outofthebox8 » Thu Mar 31, 2016 6:43 am

I did find this article on 3D printed bassoon double reeds, so their is some focus on this area. I agree that the material used for the reed blades would need to have just the right flex and vibrational quality, before they could be considered a viable alternative to cane. And of course uilleann chanter reeds, as always, would pose the greatest challenge of all.

http://www.scienceandmathacademy.com/ac ... atrick.pdf

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djm
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Re: The possibility of 3D printed reeds

Post by djm » Thu Mar 31, 2016 2:29 pm

This is somewhat similar to the oboe reeds made of Kevlar that have been available for several years. They don't sound like cane reeds. They don't play like cane reeds. But because the orchestra is used to tuning to the oboe (it usually being the most troublesome instrument) some people use them anyway just because they are more stable. There are always trade offs.

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