Our 3D printing news – bagpipes and new possibilities!

 Want to know more about 3D printing bagpipes? Earlier in the week we revealed the first part of our interview with Donald Lindsay, musician and inventor of instruments. His latest invention is a 3D print of bagpipes. The second and final part of this 3d printing news explores fresh ways of printing and how 3D printing might change the music industry. 

3d printing bagpipes

3D objects are usually printed from a vertical position. However, you are keen to 3D print longways or at an angle. Why is that? And do you find that there are any limitations with the current 3D printers available in achieving this goal?

I’d like to print horizontally, using two nozzles. The print bed would need to be over 14 inches in one direction for it to be useful for pipes. The vertical and other horizontal dimensions wouldn’t need to be very big, certainly no more than 100mm. The reason for this approach would be to allow the layering within the piece to be oriented in the same way as the wood grain. To discourage splitting, the “Ivory” mounting parts would be printed vertically (so, composed of concentric rings), and would then serve the same purpose as they do in a conventional wooden set – they’d discourage the “wood” parts from splitting “along the grain”.

I’ve developed this idea after having printed vertically for over two years. Even in ABS, the “grain” of a 3D printed part is considerably stronger than it would be in a wooden part, as long as the nozzle is calibrated close (about a layer height) to the bed, and the nozzle temp is set reasonably high. With a cooler nozzle, and/or a less tight calibration, the results can actually be as weak or weaker than wood grain, particularly as compared to tropical woods. I should add here, that I only print parts at 100% infill. I don’t find there’s much point in trying to print reasonable quality woodwinds any other way. The idea behind printing horizontally, in orienting the “grain” the same way as in a part made of wood, would be to produce much stronger and more robust parts, while utilising tried & tested construction techniques from conventional pipes (the vertically printed “ivory” ferrules, mounts and ring caps) to protect the parts from splitting along their length, just as is done with wooden parts.

The use of support material would be a plus, although it wouldn’t be impossible to produce parts like this using standard support structures, since it’s likely they’ll still need to be hand finished after printing, allowing the bores & finger holes to be reamed clear of any support at that point.

3d printing bagpipes

Based on your own experience, how do you think 3D printing is going to affect the music industry? Will the 3D printing news be filled with musical instruments once they discover this technology?!

Possibly. I think anyone who’s interested in music will probably give it a go, downloading designs from Thingiverse or other resources. I’m certain that it’s also going to open the field to a lot of new and innovative instrument designs too.

Finally – what do you love about 3D printing?

I love 3D printing, simply because I’m pretty sure that without it, I still wouldn’t be at this stage and been able to realise this idea. While, with a RepRap-based printer, you still do have to adapt your design to the process being used, I’ve found that this is substantially less important, and has less influence on the final design, than with more conventional production methods. This allows a designer to think “outside the box” to a much greater degree, and in my own work I can very visibly see (and audibly hear) the benefit of that, having been able to triple the range of my instrument in a way that I almost didn’t expect to be possible!

Having access to the tools, I already find that new, even more interesting and experimental designs are starting to flow thick and fast now. The only problem is going to be finding the time to actually draw them, print them, and most importantly to play music on them!

For more 3D printing news related to music (or bagpipes!) keep an eye on Donald’s Twitter account (@donaldlindsay) for updates on each print out.

What musical instrument would you like to see printed next? Let us know in the comments!