3D printed Saxophone fully assembled. (via Professor Olaf Diegel's ADD Guitars)
Ah, nothing beats the sultry, silky tones of an alto saxophone in the midnight hours.... unless they're playing 'Careless Whisper.' Nonetheless, saxophones can be expensive due to the materials used. Professor Olaf Diegel of
Lund University, in Sweden decided to change that by creating a nylon 3D printed saxophone. While the nylon material may remind you of being forced to play the recorder in grade school, the sound from this sax is far from horrible. In fact, this 3D printed saxophone sounds pretty good. The timbre certainly isn't equal to that of a brass alto saxophone, but it has a decent sound. Judging by the video, it seems to run a bit flat and sound a bit tinny on the higher notes, but that could also be due to poor saxophone playing.
I remember when I was learning to play the alto saxophone with a brass sax I got for $150. I could belt out some decent notes, but not consistently and I blamed it on frayed pads. My teacher couldn't tell if it was me or the saxophone, so he lent me his for the day. Well, it was definitely me. Why am I telling you this story? Because I still can't tell whether this 3D printed sax is half decent, or whether Professor Olaf is just a half decent player.
In any case, if the cost was low enough, it could be worth using as a practice saxophone. For now, the keys are supported by rubber bands, which is unseemly. But Diegel intends to redesign the print to account for the nylon material. The new design due in a couple of months, according to Diegle, is supposed to address air leak issues and have better pads, not to mention an integrated spring system for the keys. For now, this is simply a testament to what 3D printing can do. Hopefully, the new design will also be able to compensate for the nylon material and produce a deeper, richer sound-. It would probably be impossible to replicate a brass sax, but if constructed well, a nylon sax could produce a sound all-it's-own.
Hey, look at The Vegetable Orchestra (which performs on instruments made of fresh vegetables)! There is a time and place for all sorts of kooky instrument variations.
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