3D printing of an accordion

Accordionist and product design student Gilles Schuringa has designed and 3D printed part of an accordion. His model could reduce the production costs of the whole instrument by up to 15%.

Gilles Shuringa with the 3D printed accordion. (Photo: Maria Rubal)

Building an accordion is a complex manual process that requires many hours of labour. Gilles Schuringa, accordionist and student of the Integrated Product Design master programme, took on the challenge of reducing the time and labour in the production process by designing a model that could be 3D printed. 

During his master thesis, Schuringa teamed up with Pigini Nederland, a company that produces and imports accordions. The assignment was to design and print a prototype of the right side of the instrument using additive manufacturing techniques to reduce the production cost and make the instrument more accessible to new players.

The holes are covered except when the player presses a button that lifts the valve. (Photo: Gilles Schuringa)

The basic principle of an accordion is the same as a blues harp: a steel reed vibrates when air flows around it, producing a sound. In an accordion, this airflow is created by the bellow. Each of the buttons on the outside is connected to a valve covering an airhole. When a button is pressed, an ‘arm’ lifts the valve, letting the air pass through.

After analysing the production process and identifying the most time-intensive steps, Schuringa set out to 3D print the whole external body and the inner mechanical system of ‘arms’. He combined this with a conventional bellow made of cardboard and leather, and traditional steel reeds. This allows for a user interaction and sound that is comparable to that of a traditional instrument.