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Jake Middleton-Metcalfe

Advancing technologies and their effect on concertina building

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Hi there people, I haven't posted here in a while but I have just stumbled upon something that I feel is really quite important to the concertina making world and and indeed .... the whole world.

 

I had a very interesting lecture yesterday about 3d printing and cnc cutting and various computer aided design and cutting technologies such as laser cutting. For those unfamiliar with these methods basically these technologies allow you to create a 3d models on a computer and then a machine simply makes the object.

 

-CNC can cut wood incredibly precisely, here is a video:

this could make all the wooden parts of a concertina if you had the computer file

 

-you could laser cut yourself metal ends if you had the computer file - also you could do the action mechanism

 

-most amazing of all is 3d printing. Here is a video of a flute someone printed on a 3d printer:

 

What has this to do with concertinas? Well there are many places that will make your 3d computer file a real object for a small fee. It would only take someone to put a concertina part file public and everyone could very cheaply and easily make most of a concertina by making the parts and then putting them together. The reeds and the bellows would be the only hard part I suppose probably having to be purchased. It would be like getting most of a concertina kit (the wooden and most of the metal parts) for very cheap. The thing is these technologies are becoming more and more available, indeed 3d printers are becoming a consumer product.

 

This could effect concertina makers in a similar way that file sharing on the internet has effected the selling of music. A lot. Its not just concertinas, indeed the toy industry must be scared stiff at the thought of a world where you can pretty much print out any shape, requiring files that could be shared on the interned like music is.. 3d printers becoming a household item will probably effect the economy worldwide. Imagine a world where instead of buying .... well most things, you instead downloaded a file and printed it. here is an example:

 

though these inventions effect many things I would like this thread to be about how they effect concertinas, the concertina market and makers.

 

Discuss

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Hi there people, I haven't posted here in a while but I have just stumbled upon something that I feel is really quite important to the concertina making world and and indeed .... the whole world.

 

I had a very interesting lecture yesterday about 3d printing and cnc cutting and various computer aided design and cutting technologies such as laser cutting. For those unfamiliar with these methods basically these technologies allow you to create a 3d models on a computer and then a machine simply makes the object.

 

-CNC can cut wood incredibly precisely, here is a video:

this could make all the wooden parts of a concertina if you had the computer file

 

-you could laser cut yourself metal ends if you had the computer file - also you could do the action mechanism

 

-most amazing of all is 3d printing. Here is a video of a flute someone printed on a 3d printer:

 

What has this to do with concertinas? Well there are many places that will make your 3d computer file a real object for a small fee. It would only take someone to put a concertina part file public and everyone could very cheaply and easily make most of a concertina by making the parts and then putting them together. The reeds and the bellows would be the only hard part I suppose probably having to be purchased. It would be like getting most of a concertina kit (the wooden and most of the metal parts) for very cheap. The thing is these technologies are becoming more and more available, indeed 3d printers are becoming a consumer product.

 

This could effect concertina makers in a similar way that file sharing on the internet has effected the selling of music. A lot. Its not just concertinas, indeed the toy industry must be scared stiff at the thought of a world where you can pretty much print out any shape, requiring files that could be shared on the interned like music is.. 3d printers becoming a household item will probably effect the economy worldwide. Imagine a world where instead of buying .... well most things, you instead downloaded a file and printed it. here is an example:

 

though these inventions effect many things I would like this thread to be about how they effect concertinas, the concertina market and makers.

 

Discuss

We have discussed in depth the use of plastic moulding for concertina making and certainly this concept could be used for the manufacture of the wooden parts of the concertina and probably the fretwork ends made of metal or wood. There are a hell of a lot of other components that make up the concertina like the bellows, reeds etc all very time consuming. A while spent with Geoff Crabb was interesting to see how he tools up for concertina making and the high precision concepts used by Wim Wakker. I doubt very much that they are worried by these new manufacturing techniques , but a person starting from scratch would perhaps go partly along this route. Some of the computer software for cutting and the cost of machinery is very expensive indeed to start on these projects and being in the computer cutting trade myself in the past it takes a lot of work to recoup these initial start up costs.

Al

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Several years back, Rich Morse and I had a conversation on CNC machines and concertina building. I asked when he was going to get one, as all the big guitar makers were all ready using them. He replied that the biggest hold up for him was the cost of the machines, but that he would like to have one.

 

Alan

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Wally Carroll is already using a lot of this technology in his new concertinas. All the reedframes are cut by wire EDM and the reed tongues are cut by the same method. The wooden endframes are cut by CNC as are many of the wooden parts. Parts for the bellows are cut by laser and so on. So, at least at his shop, this technology is in full action with ful interchangability.

 

Ross Schlabach

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Wally Carroll is already using a lot of this technology in his new concertinas. All the reedframes are cut by wire EDM and the reed tongues are cut by the same method. The wooden endframes are cut by CNC as are many of the wooden parts. Parts for the bellows are cut by laser and so on. So, at least at his shop, this technology is in full action with ful interchangability.

 

Ross Schlabach

 

its all very interesting. i dont mean to suggest that it would be cheaper to buy machines to make your own concertina, but if you had access to cnc and lazer cutting many parts of the concertina would be easy to produce, not all of the instrument as alan correctly says.

 

The thing that interests me about it is the idea of computer files that will hold the data required to cut say a metal end or wooden parts of a concertina could be shared online the same way music is. say for example you wanted to make a new action for a concertina and you could download the file that holds the digital model of the action levers and put it through a laser cutter. Some companies offer the service of laser cutting for a fee. Sort of like paying for printing.

 

At some point i might try to design new ends for my concertina and have them cut out by laser as i have access to these machines at university. i will post pictures on here if i do

Edited by Jake of Hertford

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The thing that interests me about it is the idea of computer files that will hold the data required to cut say a metal end or wooden parts of a concertina could be shared online the same way music is. say for example you wanted to make a new action for a concertina and you could download the file that holds the digital model of the action levers and put it through a laser cutter. Some companies offer the service of laser cutting for a fee. Sort of like paying for printing.

 

At some point i might try to design new ends for my concertina and have them cut out by laser as i have access to these machines at university. i will post pictures on here if i do

 

I could see this as being very useful for those of us who do repair work. It could certainly be useful for levers which are more or less generic components which could easily be cut to length and shaped to fit. Fretworked ends come in a much greater variety of sizes and shapes, number and position of buttons etc, and are much are much less amenable to adjustment after they have been cut out, so the file would need to be edited before cutting to fit an individual instrument.

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Well folks, I suggested this route to Hamish Bayne well over 24 years ago and he was I think the very first to espouse this method . Just have a look at the Buy and Sell feature "Holmwood For Sale" This is probably the most beautiful Concertina that I have ever seen.

Trouble is there are many who are verging on Luddism and resent the lack of "Hand Crafted " parts

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I think there is a difference between hand-crafted (in the way it is being used in this thread) and hand-finished. Computer guided laser technology is certainly the way to go for consistency and accuracy. It also make practical the use of stainless in grill making. However, just because certain parts have been cut out in this modern method does not guarantee a quality product. Parts still have to be assembled and finished with care and precision, and the basic design of all the internals must be done with the aims & objectives in mind. There is no substitute for careful hand finishing and assembly of a sound design.

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There was an exhibiti0on at our University from the Advanced Engineering link with Boeing in Sheffield. I was amazed to see printed chain mail as an example Maybe ceramics have a big future , look at what molluscs can do with calcium and proteins.! DNA Genomes for concertinas next ?

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I think there is a difference between hand-crafted (in the way it is being used in this thread) and hand-finished. Computer guided laser technology is certainly the way to go for consistency and accuracy. It also make practical the use of stainless in grill making. However, just because certain parts have been cut out in this modern method does not guarantee a quality product. Parts still have to be assembled and finished with care and precision, and the basic design of all the internals must be done with the aims & objectives in mind. There is no substitute for careful hand finishing and assembly of a sound design.

 

And we are only talking about different types of machine tool. A certain C Wheatsone back in the mid 19th century employed a certain M Lachenal as a production engineer. He would have introduced more machine making. Looking at his products it seems likely that press tools were widely employed to automate the making of reed shoes, levers and other flat parts, I expect that he would have used laser, water jet cutting and EDM if they had been available.

Edited by Theo

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Okay folks,

 

Good points all around. I am biased as I have owned (sold due to needing more cutting area and better repeatability) and cutting building a CNC gantry router. Currently I cut parts for Chromatic harmonicas on them and able to get very high level finish and and repeatability. The new one will have a 4th axis (a spindle in line with the X axis) which will allow me to do a lot more 3D cutting which will allow even more precise cutting of combs and other items. Now let's look at expense, to build and use one of these has some very important costs that must be considered. They are the following with a rough range of prices (some of which you can get a very good product at a very reasonable price and some not):

 

1)CAD software for model creation £75 to £5000+ and add on to that the time needed to learn to use it well which normally can run over 30+ hours of use and study.

 

2)CAM software to generate the g-code for the machine to use (some 3D printers include their own version of this and you pay for it as well). Add another 30 hrs minimum in learning and study. Cost runs from about £90 for a good 2.5D CAM package to over £7500 for some of the truly professional stuff.

 

3)The machine(s) which depending on which route you go can run from around £1500 (home built and you have the tools or know some one who will help) to £5000 for a good base line built machine and the cost goes up from there. Oh yeah there is also the learning curve on the machine, which is an on going process.

 

4)A computer that has as it's only job the control of the machine (does not have to be fancy but 2Gig RAM is wise to have on board)

 

5)Control software which ranges from £90 to I don't want to know prices. I strongly suggest Mach3 for anyone thinking about this type of technology (3D printer have this built in and you pay for it in the price).

 

6)Then there is all the bits and bob's that include you end mills, clamps, material for jigs and such That is a never ending cycle of learning and keeping what works and getting rid of what does not.

 

Back to concertina making. With the new machine I will be able to finally cut the face plates and do so with high repeatability (.05mm is what we are shooting for). But that is only part of it as also still need to build the bellows press and get better at skiving the leather for the bellows (though the wife is getting better then me and might just let her do it). While technology does much to make the making of things easier, there the price tag of taking the time to make the model or the machine to do it. Not a problem but must be taken into account.

 

Now IF anyone is interested in building a gantry router or converting a mill or Lather to CNC, please let me know and will help any way that I can.

 

My apologies for the long post but since I work with the technology to make parts already, I thought a good look at the costs might be in ordered and I know I have missed an item or two.

 

Michael

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