for next year’s group: crucial information

For next year’s group: please do not hesitate to contact us the moment you start this project. You can obtain our e-mail addresses by asking zjenja.

We can give you some very useful advise to kickstart your project and we can give you our solidworks models (a few megabytes per model), so you can start printing straight away.

Getting in touch with the professional musicians will take a long time, so be sure to start this straight away. The pro’s are very cooperative and their input and enthusiasm for this project should not be underestimated!! For them, it is amazing to develop a new mouthpiece that is customized to their wishes and needs.

Furthermore, you should aim to get the first prints out of the Form1 printer the second or third day of your project – maybe just one, so you understand this process. Or if you have a higher-resolution printer by this time next year: use that instead..

Scanning and using meshlab and avizo takes some time to get used to, contact us because we have written down all the steps in a small document. Furthermore: start by taking two hours to read this blog, it will save you from having to ‘invent’ everything and it will save you hours and hours of time.

Finally, once again: contact us.. We will pass on our data and you can use a lot of our findings to make bigger steps! 🙂

Good luck!

final presentation, end of our project

For today’s science fair, we started by getting our blog up to date! Once this was all ready to roll, we made a poster, as displayed below


The video below shows the testing footage of the past few weeks. Especially yesterday’s meeting with Peter Broekhuizen was very fruitful! YouTube Preview Image Our stand at today’s science fair looked like this: sciencefair We showed printed mouthpieces (both the successful and failed prints), the printer at work, an edit of our testing results with the part taking musicians (Peter & Valerio) and a poster displaying the process of development. We enjoyed ourselves a lot, today! It was much fun to see all the other prototyping project groups and the vibe was uplifting. An impression of today’s science fair can be seen in the video below: YouTube Preview Image

Week 9: reflection

Looking back at the whole process of producing 3D-printed mouthpieces, there were some problems we encountered. The first to be mentioned is the fact that it took us more time than necessary to get hold of the needed software. Besides that, getting familiar with the software and transforming it into a model that we could work further with were also time consuming. Another problem was the fact that it was really difficult to get our hands on the available data of the baritone mouthpiece, which cost us quite some time. Also to be mentioned, is the fact that it took us more time to get into contact with the saxophonists than expected.

These problems has caused us to run behind schedule in producing the 3D-printed models. As to be seen in the planning we made, we would have liked to already have some printed models, the first batch, that are also had been tested before the first presentation. Because of the fact that we lagged behind only one model could have been printed and presented (not even tested yet). This has caused a further lack in progress since only one batch of mouthpieces could be tested in the very end. Furthermore we encountered a number of failures in printing out the mouthpieces 2 days (weekends excluded) before the final presentation / science fair. In the end it turned out that one baritone mouthpiece was not successfully printed out and all alto mouthpieces were to thin to be used (some of them even broke during finishing).

In the future it would be wise to immediately start downloading the needed software and getting familiar with it. For this particular project three specific programs were needed, namely Avizo, Meshlab and Solidworks. Regarding to Solidworks particularly, we planned to have a short tutorial for those who have never used it before, given by the others which did have some experience. When we started modelling the mouthpieces, it became immediately clear that there were a whole lot of features that the ones with some experience with the program had never heard of. Because of this, the whole modelling was the most time consuming part of the whole process. We could have worked more efficiently if the necessary features of the program was discussed beforehand.

As it had been mentioned above, it was quite difficult to get our hands on the available data of the baritone mouthpiece. In the end we managed to contact the group which had also worked with the same mouthpiece we would have liked to work with; the idea was to continue the progress that had been made last year. In the future it would have been a lot better if we contacted the last year group at the very beginning. An even better solution could be that all files regarding to this project is stored somewhere only the project group of the year could have access on, so that every new groups could use the previous data which had been collected previously.

Also mentioned above was the fact that it took us more time to get into contact with the saxophonists than expected. While working on this project it did not came to mind that the musicians have a pretty busy and hectic life. Getting into contact with them and have them test our mouthpieces could not be arranged within 1 day. We should have been consulting our supervisors and contacted these musicians at the very first start of the project so that the process could run smoothly.

To be concluded, we should have put more effort and immediately get to work at the very first day of this project. If we had done so, the whole process would have progressed more efficiently. Then we would also had more time left to make several try outs on the actual 3D-printing of the models. In the end we could not produce any alto mouthpieces that are usable. The baritone mouthpieces, except for one that was broken, were perfectly printed out (some of them were even better than the original and last year’s best mouthpiece). They however, did not fit perfectly onto the neck of the saxophone and needed a little adjustment. We still had some time left to make these necessary adjustments, print them out 3 dimensionally and show them during the science fair. We do not have enough time left to let our saxophonist test these adjustments, though, before the science fair. So again, if we had worked more efficiently we could let these adjustments be tested first before they are shown at the science fair on Tuesday 28th.


Week 9, Monday: testing the 3D-printed mouthpieces

After several try outs of printing out the mouthpieces we managed to produce several variations both for the alto and bariton mouthpieces. The alt mouthpieces turn out to be to thin and are not expected to be useful. They also turn out to be really fragile, so that some of them were damaged when we were finishing them. The bariton mouthpieces on the other hand, were successfully printed out, except for one mouthpiece which was an exact copy of the Drake#2 of last year group; the other bariton mouthpieces were made of a different type of material and were successfully printed out.

After they were printed out some finishing work needed to be done for the mouthpieces to be safe to play a saxophone with. After the bariton mouthpieces were ready to be used, we deserve an honour of a chance to let Peter Broekhuizen test them one by one. We had the chance to record him testing out the mouthpieces. Below is the video of Peter testing the mouthpieces out.


According to him the original Drake mouthpiece was able to produce a full and sharp sound. The Drake#2 which was made by the last year group produces a sound which is less full then the original, but sharper and louder. However, the sound produced is more capable to reach the higher tones compared to the original, which he liked. This year we were able to produce 5 bariton mouthpieces. The exact copy are given the names Drake#2.0 -Drake#2.4.


Drake #2.0

This variation has a ramp on the baffle. The very first impression was that it was too short compared to the others. This mouthpiece does not sound bad according to Peter but the sound of it is really thin and superficial compared to last years Drake#2.


Drake #2.1

This one has a square-shaped, concave part on the baffle. This version turns out to be one of the best (we have two best mouthpieces, Drake#2.1 and Drake#2.3). The sound seemed to be quite interesting for Peter. It sounds quite similar to the 2.3, but has less space in the sound compared to it, and produces a finer sound compared to the original Drake. Peter prefers this mouthpiece above the original.


Drake #2.2

The square-shaped, concave part on the baffle is longer compared to that of the 2.1. This mouthpiece has a smaller sound compared to the 2.3 and is less flexible.


Drake #2.3

The concave part on the baffle is a little bit shorter compared to that of the 2.1. According to Peter it is the best mouthpiece, with the 2.1. Produces a finer and more flexible sound, compared to the original Drake, and has beautiful higher pitch. Peter prefers this mouthpiece above the original.


Drake #2.4

The concave part on the baffle is identical to that of the 2.2, but is placed deeper in the mouthpiece. This mouthpiece does not sound bad at all, but still is not as good as the 2.3 and 2.1 since it makes the sound smaller.


To be concluded, we were able to produce a mouthpiece that is even better than the original and last year’s mouthpiece. There is one problem though; all variations do not fit perfectly onto the neck of the saxophone. Peter Broekhuizen mentioned that he would like to compare the Drake #2.1 and #2.3 even further after they are modified to fit perfectly onto the neck of his sax.

testing tomorrow! (tuesday science fair)

Tomorrow, we will be testing our mouthpieces with Peter Broekhuizen, a musician of Artvark Saxophone Quartet!

The day after, we will be showing last month’s work at the science fair.  Feel free to come by to have a look on tuesday, we will be in the hall of the IDE Faculty of TUDelft all afternoon.

Science fair tuesday – all afternoon @ IDE Faculty of TUDelft

week 8, thursday: 16 customized and printed mouthpieces

This post is quite a long story, in which we will tell you about the progress of this week, after reflecting on the first stages of this project. We will also give you an idea of how much time the steps in this project will take you. This week, we had two solidworks-models that were ready to be adjusted! See the two screenshots below:

Screenshot drake 2 mouthpiece (click to enlarge):

Schermafdruk 2014-10-24 13.43.52

Screenshot mystery alt saxophone player mouthpiece (click to enlarge):

Schermafdruk 2014-10-24 13.42.44

The past weeks, we discovered that it takes a lot of time to reverse-engineer a mouthpiece. To go from the mouthpiece to an X-ray is not such a big step, but it takes about half a day. The next step is to ‘compile’ the slices we obtained into a file that can be used in Meshlab – the software used to get from the slices to Meshlab is called Avizo, and it takes quite some time to get this setup and to have a basic understanding of this. Once you have gone through these steps, a 3D-image can be imported into solidworks and the true modelling will begin. This is the part that takes lots and lots of time, and you will need a high level of solidworks-skills. To give you an impression of the amount of time this takes: our supervisor Zjenja is experienced with this kind of work and it takes him about a day to get this done. It took us a lot more time: if you are new to Solidworks, it will take you all five weeks of the project (!). If you are a third-year Industrial Design student, you should count on ten full days. To go from zero to a printed and working design. Once you have a model that is similar to the scan (a few days later), be quick to get the first prints out! You will need to test, hear & feel how they sound. This is where the fun part starts!

After all of this, it took us about an hour to model 12 different variations of the alt saxophone mouthpiece. To get the right settings off the printer and to get some nice prints out is a story of its own, so keep reading..

12 variations have been modelled, and are being printed as I type.  One variation used a ramp, the other a baffle. They are located in the spot that has the highest turbulence – as determined by Aerospace Engineering PhD Valerio. A shot of his research, where red-orange-yellow marks the part with the highest turbulence:


The ramp looks like this:

Schermafdruk 2014-10-24 13.46.23

The baffle looks like this:

Schermafdruk 2014-10-24 13.49.59

The ramp has been made in the following variations:

  • postion: ‘reference position’ and a position closer to the tip of the mouthpiece
  • size: small, medium, large
  • this gives 6 mouthpieces

In that same location, a baffle has been made (a small gap) in the following variations:

  • position: ‘reference position’ and a position more inwards
  • size: small, medium, large,
  • this gives 6 mouthpieces

 The above mentioned variations have all been made to the mouthpiece of our mystery alt saxophone player.

About the bariton sax mouthpiece, drake 2: we are printing 5 variations at the moment. The variations are as follows:

  • baffle size: small, large
  • baffle position: ‘reference’ vs inwards

We were able to obtain the solidworks files of this bariton mouthpiece from last years project group! This has saved us a lot of time, plus it enabled us to follow up on their product. Last year, their mouthpieces had been printed with an object printer as found in the PMB (workshop) of the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering. The printer we had acces to this year, has a higher resolution. Also, the material it prints in  is much nicer to use for  saxophone player!

This is a nice breakthrough in this project, especially regarding the feedback of last year’s tester and professional saxophone player, Peter Broekhuizen. The main reason to discontinue the use  of his 3D-printed mouthpiece, was the material it was printed in.

Another adjustment we made to last years model was the fitting to the neck of the saxophone. It should now fit better and be easier for the player to ‘tune’ the mouthpiece.

some failed prints and a day later..

3D printing is a pretty cool technique, but it proves time and time again to not be as straightforward as it sounds. Results can be really nice and reproducible, but they can also be a disappointment..

  • Printing a batch 6 mouthpieces using the form1 printer takes about 20 hours.
  • Printing a batch of 10 mouthpieces using the objet printer takes a little less time.

A few pictures of last night’s failed prints:







After we restarted the prints, the printer failed us again – we are slightly changing our solidworks models right now. Our third print will be started in about hour from now..


some mouthpieces in the exposition of the Dutch Design Week

It was really nice to see that last year’s mouthpieces were part of the TUDelft exposition in the #DDW Dutch Design Week! A picture below of the exposition, next to a short movie explaining the ‘how and why‘ of the project:






Week 8, Monday

This week we plan to work on the actual mouthpieces. We had the chance to meet up with Valerio Lorenzoni, an aerospace engineering student (as it had been mentioned earlier) and discuss some directions towards potentially, useful modifications. Valerio himself got the chance to show us some 3D-printed mouthpieces and demonstrated the modifications he made with those mouthpieces.



Below are some video’s of Valerio demonstrating the 3D-printed models

YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image


Furthermore, we also decided to start modelling our first variation of an original mouthpiece. Two of us were already keeping themselves busy, trying to make a decent Solidworks model on the alt-saxophone mouthpiece we are working with. The others also tried to make themselves (more) familiar with Solidworks and had tried to gain the necessary data of a bariton mouthpiece. Regarding the latter, we got the opportunity to contact Peter Broekhuizen, a Dutch bariton saxophonist, to ask him whether he was willing to take part in this project and let us ‘modify’ his bariton mouthpiece, and he gave us a positive reply. So our goals this week are to get our hands on the data of this bariton mouthpiece and to produce several decent 3D-printed variations of both the alt- and bariton- mouthpiece.


Robin getting confused about Solidworks



Everybody getting confused about Solidworks




Presenting our progress

The same Tuesday morning, there was very little time to inspect our first print. A crowd of people was waiting to hear about our progress!

We presented to them what we accomplished and pointed out the work that still has to be done.

A pleasant surprise was the presence of Valerio Lorenzoni, an Aerospace-engeneering PHD and saxophone player. He already did a lot of research on the mouthpiece problem and was kind enough to give us some tips. We spoke about the different types of mouthpieces and the known influences on tone quality. However, he stressed that the modification of mouthpieces is very complicated and would never result in just one tone feature to change.

There are of course a few guidelines we can use:

  • A faster flow of air will result in a more ‘projected’ and sharper tone. Imagine a beam of laser or an arrow being fired.
  • Slower airflow will result in  more spread-out and warmer tone but less articulated.
  • The border or ‘the ramp’ between the chamber and the bore is very important, a sharp edge will result in more air turbulence and hence a ‘richer’ tone with different layers an colours.
  • Also the shape of this ramp is very important, the traditional U-shape results in a richer tone.

He suggested that we could research the differences of the shapes of the ramp, because the tip opening is a very default thing to change in a mouthpiece.


He also pointed out the flaws present on our first print and why it would not work as an actual sax mouthpiece:

  • The side rails are too small, the reed will not be able to create a vacuum.
  • The tip contour is too flat, very uncomfortable for the player and the reed will not match this shape.
  • Also, the facing curve was not present. This feature creates the tip opening witch allows the reed to vibrate witch creates the tone.



Tuesday mornin’ blues


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first print! tuesday morning



This morning, a 3D printer gave birth to our first mouthpiece.. Still lots of work to do, but it looks like a mouthpiece 🙂image



A look inside our first prototype:image