3D printing has brought us many wonderful creations, including Andrew Murrell’s recent violin. His instrument is based on the freely-available Hovalin design, but what really sets it apart is the “natural” wood finish.
According to Murrell’s writeup, “This print was done using ROBO3D wood PLA, which consists of 60% PLA plastic and 40% sawdust.” He used this material because he thought that there was a “slight chance” that the saw dust would help with the acoustics. The other reason was that he thought that wood PLA would be stainable.
As seen in his photos, this hypothesis was correct, and his violin came out looking close to natural wood. The process consisted of sanding, staining the body, and coating the neck in vegetable oil. Finally, two coats of Shellac were applied to give it a nice finished look.
As you might suspect, this isn’t Murrell’s first 3D-print. He’s been at it since 2012, when he assembled a RepRap Prussa Mendel from parts mostly sourced from eBay. He played the violin in fourth grade through high school, so combining the two art forms via the Hovalin design only made sense.
According to Murrell, the instrument “sounds pretty good for a piece of plastic!” He continues saying that “It’s definitely quieter than a wood violin and the tone is slightly warmer than a straight up 100% PLA Hovalin (he had previously printed one as a gift for his mother). “I had some initial issues with the A and E strings buzzing, which I resolved by re-stringing the instrument so that the tuner pulls the string further down at an angle where it meets the nut at the end of the fingerboard.”
As neat as this build is, it’s actually Murrell’s third try at a violin. The first being an F-F-Fiddle (Fused Filament Fiddle), a build technique which is outlined on Make: if you’d like to make your own.