The Melodica Building Experiment

3D Printing a Melodica (14) – it’s finished!

3D Printing a Melodica (14) – it’s finished!

It’s ready! What started out last summer as an idea for a project, has finally come to life. Thanks for all the encouragement over the months, it’s all been really helpful in keeping me motivated. I’m really happy with this little instrument – it’s just what I hoped it would be. Here’s some photos I took today And a little demonstration video! »

3D Printing a Melodica (13) – finishing touches

3D Printing a Melodica (13) – finishing touches

Just two things to complete on the melodica before I can say it’s finished. There’s the mouthpiece, and at the other end of the instrument, the moisture-release valve. What mouthpiece? There’s many styles of mouthpieces for the melodica, so what shape did I choose? I’ve never been a fan of long mouthpieces, as I like to be as close to the reeds as I can. I decided to go for... »

3D Printing a Melodica (12) – making melodica keys

3D Printing a Melodica (12) – making melodica keys

Once I knew that this melodica was airtight, and working well, I can finally get to my favourite bit – making it look nice! Ivory ‘white’ keys I started with building the little piano style keys. I already had some ivory pieces salvaged from an old piano. It was time to cut them to size. Of course, I needed a new machine just for this purpose, and found a lovely miniature table saw (Pr... »

3D Printing a Melodica (11) – second attempt

3D Printing a Melodica (11) – second attempt

A new material? After my last attempt warped under the pressure of the springs, I ordered all the parts again, with a few design modifications, in a new material. This time the material of choice was nylon, otherwise known as “Strong and Flexible” at Shapeways. Although very strong, and capable of good accuracy, this was a material I’d rejected previously because if its porosity. But maybe I... »

3D Printing a Melodica (10) – first assembly

3D Printing a Melodica (10) – first assembly

The new keys have arrived, but before putting all the parts together, I decided to try painting the main body. The main body (‘skeleton’) is made from Polyjet material which has had extra UV treatment to make it even harder. Although Stratasys, the company who make Polyjet machines, say that no ‘finishing’ or sanding is required before painting, my model had many rough edge... »

3D Printing a Melodica (9) – Attaching parts

3D Printing a Melodica (9) – Attaching parts

28 October 2014 Attaching two 3D printed parts I decided to try attaching the chamber cover to the main body. I had already ordered some small brass inserts to fit into the holes on the main body. These were to provide something for the screws to screw into – like an anchored nut. I couldn’t quite get them in all the way, but this shouldn’t be a problem, as they’ll protrude... »

3D Printing a Melodica (8) – Soft sticky prints

3D Printing a Melodica (8) – Soft sticky prints

21 October 2014 The parts have arrived… I eventually decided to send my 3D files over to a printing company based in the west midlands of England, 3D Alchemy. I learnt from the previous test pieces that printing in plastic (ABS) would not provide the surface quality I needed, so I opted to pay twice the price and have it printed in resin on an Eden 500V printer, using Polyjet technology (res... »

3D Printing a Melodica (7) – Printer hell

3D Printing a Melodica (7) – Printer hell

18 August 2014 My new 3D printer After my last post, I visited the 3D printing shop, where they were putting on a demonstration for beginners. I showed them a photo of what I was intending to make, and it all looked very straight forward. I went ahead and ordered the FlashForge Creator Pro. Once I got it home, I eagerly set it up (a couple of hours work, as there weren’t any detailed instruc... »

3D Printing a Melodica (6) – Buying  a printer

3D Printing a Melodica (6) – Buying a printer

18 July 2014 My own 3D printer? I’ve been doing some research into 3D printers. I’ve decided to buy one instead of using the services of a professional 3D printer, as the costs for one print out is similar to the cost of a lower end printer. It seems there’s two types of 3D printing available to me. Stereolithography One is a technology that’s been around since the eighties... »

3D Printing a Melodica (5) – The range

3D Printing a Melodica (5) – The range

15 July 2014 Nearly ready for printing! I’ve now nearly finished the 3D drawing of the melodica. I’m leaving it without a case, for a more exposed look. Instead I’ve incorporated a finger rest and thumb rest to grip the instrument. I’ve made the white keys slightly smaller so there’ll be room to add the ivory tops, and the black keys are just a flat base to which I ca... »

3D Printing a Melodica (4) – Wood details

3D Printing a Melodica (4) – Wood details

8 July 2014 Ebony and Ivory I’ve found that through extended practice, the plastic keys on the Yamaha P32D (and the Clavietta) start developing small pits. When this happens, I normally buy a new melodica, which means I also get the benefit of a whole new set of reeds. I’d like this melodica to be much more hard wearing, more in line with a quality instrument. I’ve had some very ... »

3D Printing a Melodica (3) – On the computer

3D Printing a Melodica (3) – On the computer

7 July 2014 Measuring up While the keys have been quite simple to measure up, it hasn’t been so easy trying to measure the chambers within the ‘skeleton’ section. This piece has been injection moulded with 32 air passages in place, and the only way to get into the space was by sawing it in half to reveal the cross section: From this new viewpoint we were able to recreate the air ... »

3D Printing a Melodica (2) – The beginnings

3D Printing a Melodica (2) – The beginnings

4 July 2014 Reverse engineering When it comes to computer assisted 3D design, I have a lot to learn, so I invited 3D design whizz, Simon Evans to the studio for the day, to show me how it all works. The idea is to study the instrument closely, measuring every last detail, with a view to recreating it digitally – a process called reverse engineering. We started by completely dismantling the Yamaha ... »

3D Printing a Melodica (1) – Why the melodica?

3D Printing a Melodica (1) – Why the melodica?

3 July 2014 Why the melodica? I started practising the melodica seriously a few years ago, when I needed an instrument to play Irish music with, which I could easily take to play at the informal pub sessions. I already played the piano, so the piano accordion was the obvious first choice. But I gave it a go, and there’s something about the bulky size and weight, and that huge sound, which pu... »