The First 3D Printed Melodica

Daren Banarsë recently printed a beautiful and functional Melodica.

What is a Melodica? A Melodica is a handheld musical instrument that is air powered and incorporates a keyboard. A Melodica operates similar to a flute.

Daren is an artist and composer, based in London. He fell in love with the Melodica and its portability. However the instrument had some drawbacks. The sound was slightly shrill and the instrument could not withstand playing melodies quickly. The instrument also looks like it was designed for children, because it was; they are made from plastic and brightly colored.

Daren decided to fix these problems by resorting to 3D printing. He had to teach himself about CAD and the mechanics of a melodica. He wanted to redesigned the melodica to make it both look and play like a traditional instrument. His first attempt was not up to par with how he wanted the instrument to sound. With his next attempt, the instrument was too flexible. Finally he printed the parts and frame using Nylon-12 at Shapeways. His next challenge was the porosity of Nylon-12. The instrument had to be airtight. He applied layers of acrylic sealant which did the trick. The instrument was working perfectly. His next task was to get the instrument to look and feel traditional and organic.

Daren shaped wood to fit over the black keys and made end pieces. He also stripped ivory from an old piano to fit over the piano keys. Finally the instrument looks as good as it sounds! Keep your ears open for music sculptures under the pseudonym Troy Banarzi. Troy is really Daren Banarsë. His music has been featured on programs like The Apprentice, Top Gear, Horizon and Coast.

Listen to Daren discuss the process here:

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