Amazing innovative musical instrument incorporates 3D printed parts.
“We went through five prototypes in two years. We wouldn’t have been able to move that quickly or have the product we have today with traditional injection molding,” said Butera.” – Watch the video.
Artiphon is changing the way musicians think about creating music with its INSTRUMENT 1, a musical instrument that works directly with mobile apps. From the interface and sound quality, to the materials and manufacturing process, INSTRUMENT 1 is unifying traditional craftsmanship with cutting-edge technology. An iPhone or iPod Touch docks in the heart of its multi-sound, multi-function body, providing sound synthesis, multi-track recording, and advanced configurations. Essentially, Artiphon is giving musicians access to many instruments in one portable machine.
Artiphon mindfully designed the INSTRUMENT 1 to include heirloom hardwoods and professional-grade plastic components sourced in the U.S. “It is important for us to use quality, substantial materials to differentiate the INSTRUMENT 1 from all the musical app-cessories your see on the market today,” said Mike Butera, founder and CEO of Artiphon.
Part of that design strategy was creating five critical plastic components using Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM®) services from RedEye, including the six-string, six-fret virtual fingerboard, pressure-sensitive strum section and the iPhone/iPod housing. Artiphon chose 3D printing over traditional injection molding its plastic parts for a number of reasons, including anticipated design changes and time to market.
“We went through five prototypes in two years. We wouldn’t have been able to move that quickly or have the product we have today with traditional injection molding,” said Butera.
With the constant evolution of mobile devices, Artiphon couldn’t afford the risk of getting locked into a design too soon. Creating a tool for injection molding would have taken months and a large upfront investment. FDM technology eliminated the need for a tool, allowing for many design iterations in short amount of time. “When Artiphon needed to make changes to the INSTRUMENT 1 for iPhone 4 and iPhone 5, we received new part designs, adjusted the orientation and file to be compatible with FDM and delivered new parts to them within a week,” said Mick Schrempp, account manager at RedEye.
With the largest FDM capacity in the world, RedEye was able to meet the deadlines for Artiphon’s multiple prototype orders and functional part orders. Through the many design tweaks since the first order in May 2012, Artiphon settled on five functional pieces for final mockups in June, just in time for the National Association of Musical Merchants (NAMM) Show in Nashville, TN.
Because of FDM’s recent advancements in resolution and improved material durability, Artiphon has decided to use 3D printed plastic parts from RedEye in its first set of units delivered to customers. “The durability of 3D printed parts has been a game changer for small-scale manufacturing,” said Butera. Artiphon is one of many companies using 3D printing for low-volume functional parts to gain a competitive edge by increasing supply chain efficiency, while still maintaining care for production and design integrity. “Artiphon stretched the limits of FDM and has been able to get a lot out of their 3D printed parts for a small investment,” said Schrempp.
Through the initial launch of INSTRUMENT 1, consumers have recognized the type of materials and manufacturing methods Artiphon used in its design. Musicians take pride in what is in their instruments and where it came from. “They see the thin layer lines on the raw, 3D printed plastic parts and associate it with careful engineering, the same way they recognize fine hardwoods by the distinguishable grain of real wood. People immediately recognize that we didn’t just ship the idea off to be designed and manufactured only overseas,” said Butera. Artiphon is not only spearheading innovation in the music industry by merging technology with fine art, but also by domestically producing the INSTRUMENT 1 with the latest manufacturing technology.