After seeing how 3D scanning makes precise 3-D images of body parts, Dr. Robert Howe, a reproductive endocrinologist in East Longmeadow, Mass., realized the same CT technology could help him study delicate musical instruments from the past.
Howe, who is also a doctoral student in music theory and history at UConn, last year shared his thoughts with music theory professor Richard Bass, who contacted Sina Shahbazmohamadi, an engineer and the school’s director for advanced 3D imaging.
Together, they have developed a new process: they first make images of those instruments using CT scanning technology and then create 3D copies of parts using 3D printing.
Before this technology, to make a copy of the handmade part an artisan would have to measure it with metal calipers and other instruments, which would have left marks. Then the artisan would have to translate those measurements into tooling. It was a time-consuming and costly process.
Dr. Robert Howe, a medical doctor and a PhD candidate in music history, displays antique English horns at the University of Connecticut’s Depot Campus in Mansfield, Conn. (AP Photo/Pat Eaton-Robb)
Using the new 3D imaging technology, the UConn team was able to show the construction of an 18th-century English horn and the result shows it was much more complicated than experts originally thought.
Because it is not possible to cut the rare and delicate instrument open, and traditional X-ray didn’t show the construction as well because the pins are made of the same material as the horn, Shahbazmohamadi then came up with a new idea which allowed the team to scan metal and wood at the same time. This breakthrough allowed them to get exact 3-D images of items such as a mouthpiece from one of the first saxophones made by Adolphe Sax in the 19th century.
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