Company aims to make instruments more affordable through 3D printing

Posted at 6:38 AM, Jan 24, 2022

CLEVELAND — Matthew Canel is an engineer, but it's his passion for music that's bringing about change.

"I used to play the cello," Canel said. "The reason I don't play the cello anymore is that they are $40,000 to $50,000 instruments, and I was renting one for not nearly anything near that when I was playing. I couldn't certainly afford to just buy one."

The thought of not playing music because of the cost always stuck with Canel. Then, through an old engineering class project, he came up with the idea to build his own quarter-sized violin using 3D printing.

"Someone had already done a full size, so I started with a quarter, and from there, lots of development work with a local luthier, Max Morgan, up in Cleveland Heights," Canel said. "From there, we got something that sounds pretty much like the wooden thing."

With a product in hand and a grant from the Student Project Fund, Canel got help from fellow Case Western Reserve University alumnus Ben Kaufman to take it to market.

"I sort of just stayed on to help with the business side, help with the managing production," Kaufman said. "Matt does all the design and all of the manufacturing design, and then I take it from there and try and sell it."

Together the two founded their company, 3D Music. They create colorful, safe and durable hard-plastic violin replicas in just 48 hours.

The pair says their 3D-printed instruments are more affordable, costing about $200.

"You can buy a wooden violin for up to a $1 million. So, there is a huge range…the cheapest violins I've found on AliExpress are to $69 plus shipping, and their sound quality is what a $69 violin would sound like," Kaufman said. "We're trying to get the sound quality of a $300 to $400 violin and then come in under their price."

They say affordability is important for kids, like Canel, who want to play an instrument but can't afford it. The pair hopes to collaborate with local school districts soon as they continue to expand.

"We'd love to be a known company in the educational industry, in the music industry," Kaufman said.

For more information about 3D Music, click here.

This story was originally published by Taneisha Cordell on Scripps station WEWS in Cleveland.