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SteveS

3D Printer And Concertinas

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I'm musing on the idea of getting a 3D printer. I'm thinking it could be used for the fabrication of buttons.

 

Any thoughts on other parts that might be fabricated with a 3D printer?

 

Things may depend on the types of materials available for the printer - hardness, durability, etc.

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Good idea, Steve.

Here's an image I did of buttons for my Stagi tenor.

Eventually I'm going to 3D print almost all the (electronic MIDI and synthesizer) Concertina Nova.

Regards,

Bruce Thomson

palmytomo@gmail.com

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Hi Bruce, these look great.

 

I'm also thinking the bellows cards could be printed too.

Maybe even an entire reed pan :unsure:

Edited by SteveS

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Unless you have access to an industrial 3D printer then, at least for the time being, you are going to be limited to making stuff out of ABS, or a similarly soft plastic. I just don't see that ABS is the right material for any part of a concertina.

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FWIW, I attach a few photos of an action pan I had printed two years ago to replace the action of a 20 button fixerupper Lachenal. It's one of the projects in the work that got suspended "until further notice." I did it to set myself a target to learn how to use CAD software, but I'm not much of a craftsman, so the next steps drag on somehow even though I have all it takes at home. Well, retirement will hit at some point...

 

The pan was designed by me, printed by Shapeways and cost about 100 EURos. Material was a non flexible plastic (I don't have access to my account so I don't know the exact name of it). I just checked; so far it hasn't shown any signs of wear, wrap or deterioration. I'm sure more modern materials are even better and cheaper in production.

 

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Unless you have access to an industrial 3D printer then, at least for the time being, you are going to be limited to making stuff out of ABS, or a similarly soft plastic. I just don't see that ABS is the right material for any part of a concertina.

Some non-commercial printers are now offering other materials - not sure though if there's a material that's as hard, durable and a good alternative to brass.

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FWIW, I attach a few photos of an action pan I had printed two years ago to replace the action of a 20 button fixerupper Lachenal. It's one of the projects in the work that got suspended "until further notice." I did it to set myself a target to learn how to use CAD software, but I'm not much of a craftsman, so the next steps drag on somehow even though I have all it takes at home. Well, retirement will hit at some point...

 

The pan was designed by me, printed by Shapeways and cost about 100 EURos. Material was a non flexible plastic (I don't have access to my account so I don't know the exact name of it). I just checked; so far it hasn't shown any signs of wear, wrap or deterioration. I'm sure more modern materials are even better and cheaper in production.

 

RAC, interesting! When you get this project finished please let us know how it affects the tone of the concertina. It looks as if you have redesigned the action also, are you planning plastic levers..? Edited by Chris Ghent

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Yes, curious people want to know...

 

One assumes the [ ] shaped things hold fulcrum posts. But why is there a single [ beside the outer row of buttons, and why is there a row of [ ] near the holes at left of the middle picture? Guides to make sure the long levers don’t go off course?

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Thanks for your interest, Chris and David!

 

About the lever material: Plastic would be a natural choice; however, each one would need to be designed individually to fit, which is certainly a risky thing to do as long as one doesn't know whether the whole thing works in the first place... the material I've got scheduled to test are 0.5m brass rods with a square profile which I found in a supply store for model airplanes. I intend to cut those to size and see where I get from there. I'm absolutley sure that some of the things I thought up aren't going to work at all, so in a "real life" project, there'll be several evolutionary iterations.

 

David, you are absolutely right about the outer [ ]. The first material I laid eyes on for the levers were metal rods with a round profile, and I was sort of worried that these might bend over time and therefore lose their exact positioning. SInce a design cycle is fairly long and expensive, I followed the philosophy that I'd rather design unnecessary things in to later remove than find I didn't have something I later on find out to need. Oh well.

 

The outer single [ is a crutch. You'll notice that it is the only one that doesn't match with a ], the only reason being that I didn't have space because that room was taken by the next Button. The positions of the buttons were given, and for some reason I didn't think of the possibility to move the corresponding reed towards the outside (for which there would be ample space). So the button post itself must serve as the other ]. It's one of the known weak spots of the design.

 

What you don't see in the picture is that all of the [ ] shaped blocks have three holes in their side walls. The idea was that these blocks serve as pivot points for the levers. Before I had the pan printed, I wasn't sure whether one could drill holes in the pan to fix the lever fulcrums at arbitrary positions, so I "hardcoded" the pivot points. Looking back, it's probably not a good idea to align the pivot points of the long levers flush, but that's another thing to take the test of reality.

 

The last thing that's worth mentioning is that I plan to put the springs in the bottom of the button holes. Dana Johnson (who was extremly generous, valuable and patient in private message brainstorms when I discussed the idea with him - he's responsible for everything in the design that might work, and I'm in charge of the rest - thanks Dana!) suggested that I look for conical springs for that purpose. Even though the area I live in appears to be a natural habitat for spring makers (there are about a dozen or so companies within driving distance that specialize in spring making), I haven't been able to find somebody to make prototypes according to my specs at reasonable prices; maybe I'll need to find a creative way to coil those myself.

 

But as I wrote before - It's one of those projects that have initial momentum but then always end up in the bottom of the stack of things to do. This discussion actually got me to thinking about moving the project up the stack again.

 

In the meantime, I'd be more than happy to share the design files and the STMs in case anybody is interested. I used FreeCAD which is not the best CAD Software for more complex shapes but works fair enough for simple projects.

Edited by RAc

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Making springs is not difficult. There are videos on youtube that will give you enough ideas to design and make your own.

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Making springs is not difficult. There are videos on youtube that will give you enough ideas to design and make your own.

well, *now* I know how to spell "sheepish..." I know I looked before and did find a numer of instructional vids, but none I remembered dealing w/ conical springs... anyways, after reading your mail, I revisited UT and found the clue in the first hit. Took me about an hour to make the 10 springs I needed of which most went into making the tapered dowel.

 

Thanks...

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Nice to know I could help.

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I personally think that this is an utter waste of time. no thermo-plastic has the properties of sound transmittion. It has been tried and it has failed. Hamish Bayne made a reed pan from Acrilyc or P M M A and the sound was as dead as a Dodo or as flat as a Witches Tit.I gave John Townley samples of I X E F to try on Reed Frames and the result was the same. The majority of printers use "Commodity " plastics. There are a few that can print with Carbon Fibre that might be a little better, but I have my doubts Timber is great for making acoustic Instruments , plastic is not.

I know a bit about Plastics as I have been involved since 1963 and I am still involved at 78 with 25,000 square feet and 25 injection moulding machines and a full Tool Room

It may be worth looking at lever arms in Acetal with an integral spring and may be buttons But glueing pads to Acetal is problematic

Bellows could be a possibility but the Tooling would be an utter Nightmare

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Nick I so agre with you. I keep coming across people who have latched onto the idea of 3D printing and think it can do almost anything. Almost without exception they are people with limited practical experience of getting their hands dirty in a workshop actually making anything from wood metal or plastic. Not knocking anyone who enjoys learning and experimenting, but armchair manufacturing always has 100% success rate. Real made objects don't.

 

I love this quote I saw recently, can't remember from who. Maybe you Nick:

 

"In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, in practice there is"

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I love this quote I saw recently, can't remember from who. Maybe you Nick:

 

"In theory there is no difference between theory and practice, in practice there is"

 

I heard it from Jim Lucas, it's still one of my favorites.

 

Nothing I can really say against Nick's observations, nor would I want to... if anything, my little journeys into concertina making and maintenance have first of all taught me humbleness and awe, understanding that everything a vintage concertina is made of is actually the result of many dead ends and experiments. As "simple" as such an instrument looks, its construction can't be improved much (otherwise any possible improvements would already have made it into younger instruments).

 

As said before, the primary purpose of the design I presented above was to give me a project to learn design with, and naturally, picking something related to something one likes to do is a better choice than any random project. Life is a permanent learning process, so I'd rather spend my time learning new things (such as new tunes) instead of, say, hanging out in front of a TV set...

 

anyways, thanks for your insights, Nick, well appreciated. I never had high hopes or illusions when starting this thing, so the best I can hope for is to become surprised by the results (or understand in practice why some things work and some don't. I don't learn by theory a whole lot).

 

Theo's input has actually given me a little momentum, so whatever it's worth I have now continued my work on the action plate. Let's see how far the momentum carries (probably until the time the next fun tune catches my attention...)

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I dont see a 3D printer as havaing any practical replacement for most wooden parts fabrication.

However some parts have very little or no tonal qualities: bellows cards, buttons, levers - and possibly some other parts.

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I'm really glad that others have already spoken up in opposition to what I consider is nothing more than a solution in search of a problem. Yes, it might be nice too lower the cost of our instruments, but experience has time and time again illustrated that with that lower cost has come a sacrifice in sound or playability.

 

Ross Schlabach

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