Articles3D Printing a Melodica

3D Printing a Melodica (11) – second attempt

A new material?

After my last attempt warped under the pressure of the springs, I ordered all the melodica parts again, with a few design modifications, in a new material. This time the material of choice was nylon, otherwise known as “Strong and Flexible” at Shapeways. Although very strong, and capable of good accuracy, this was a material I’d rejected previously because if its porosity. But maybe I could seal the essential areas which needed to be airtight? If I could make this work, it would also cost a fraction of the price of the previous Polyjet material.

Is it airtight?

Once all the parts arrived, my first call was to put it all together to see if I had an airtight structure. My old key pad arrangement was letting out air, so I changed the design to simple flat pads, on which I glued soft leather.

leather pad melodica

Also, my air chamber cover now had extra screws to ensure a tighter fit. Once the reeds were fitted, and the keys attached, I tried blowing into the instrument without pressing any keys. And I was delighted to find that it was completely airtight – nothing could get through.

nylon melodica

Painting nylon

Now that the basics were all working, I was relieved to finally know that I’d have a good functioning melodica before too long. It was time to seal and paint the melodica. I read that one way of sealing this material is with superglue. This sounded like a potential nightmare to me, especially when trying to get to all the hidden air cavities before the glue starts to dry. Another suggestion was much simpler, and cheaper – Pledge Floor Multi-Surface Finish, or Pledge Klear Multi-surface wax in the UK, which is apparently the same as acrylic varnish. After several coats of this, I applied a couple of coats of Revell acryllic paint, and finished with clear lacquer from the car shop.

acrylic painted nylon melodica

New reeds?

I’m still using the same reeds, which I took from a Yamaha P32D, and which I tuned down a tone. I’m looking for an alternative now, as the detuning has left the reeds in a poor state – there’s little chips in the metal, and some of the tongues look quite weak.

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  1. This sounds fantastic Fran! This melodica was made to fit Yamaha reeds. These are harmonica style – multiple tongues on one plate. The tongues are spaced 11.2 mm apart, so I’d need something similar for it to fit. Also, I have screw holes and inserts already in place. Maybe you could put me in touch with your uncle? You can send an email through the ‘contact’ page and we take it from there…

  2. Greetings Daren, I hope it iss okay to contact you like this. I have been following your posts for a long time now, and always wait for the next one. I am writing because I think you should meet my uncle. We are from Italy, our family has worked with accordions for generations. My uncl doesn’t speak English, but I can translate for him. I told him about your project and he says he can help.

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