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991 Wildwood Land

Highland Park, IL 60035

Walter@clarinetxpress.com


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Random Musings 


Two years ago, I was busily developing designs for my new mouthpieces on my desktop computer, using CAD (Computer Aided Design) tools.

At the time, I assumed that these mouthpieces would be made of hard rubber and manufactured on a big, expensive CNC machine, a large milling machine that takes orders from a program that reads the files from CAD, and actually performs the milling and drilling operations needed to make the mouthpieces.

I did a lot of investigation into CNC machining. I had several prominent companies make prototypes for me, and I even purchased a "table top" five-axis CNC machine to learn how to make them myself. As it turns out, CNC is very time consuming, expensive, and does not always give you the results you want. Even as created by the best machinists, CNC generated products need hours of hand smoothing and adjusting to get a finished product.  During that process, what happens to the carefully milled perfect measurements?

I began to get interested in additive manufacturing when I found out how far the science has advanced. For example, dentists use it now to create crowns, which they make right in their offices in a few minutes, a process that used to take weeks. Surgeons use additive manufacturing to create structures that they actually implant in patients. I even read an article about 3D printing parts for a rocket engine!

Doing additional research, I found a lab, right here in Chicago, that produces parts for industrial machines and assemblies. These machines and people work at a very high level of accuracy. The machines on which my mouthpieces are manufactured 
cost over $200,000 each. The level of accuracy is amazing, and rivals that which you can get through CNC processing.

To read a very interesting article from Forbes, about the current use of additive manufacturing please click here.  

I feel like additive manufacturing will have a great impact on how mouthpieces are made in the future, and that we are on the very leading edge of the technology.

Also, this form of manufacturing has a great story to tell regarding the environment and sustainability as we approach this critical period in earth's history. To read more about this, click here https://www.fastradius.com/resources/4-ways-additive-manufacturing-creates-a-more-earth-friendly-industry/  

The manufacture of rubber adds hazardous pollutants to the atmosphere, and hard rubber mouthpieces actually shed or emit sulphur and sulfuric acid while in use. The era of  "my mouthpiece must be made from hard rubber" is over. Mouthpiece makers, all around the world, are using different materials and are getting great results. 

I have had a few questions about the material which we have selected to make our mouthpieces. Many materials are now available, including many plastics, metals, wood, porceline, and carbon fibre to name a few. The list is long and continues to be augmented every day as new materials are brought to market.

The material which we ultimately selected is RPU70, also called Rigid Polyurethane.
It has acoustic properties very similar to hard rubber, but will not degrade as rubber always does. It is also totally "food safe" and does not contain contaminants (unlike hard rubber) which could be harmful. It is easily worked and chemically stable.

I will continue to look at new materials, as they come available, to test their applicability to mouthpiece making. Some which I have "discovered" have exciting potential. Look for new products this spring or early summer.

I have just recently introduced a mouthpiece made from a new and different material. I believe it has superior acoustic properties. It is my first new bass clarinet design in years. It is availab;e in traditional black and lumenious white. The mouthpiece is the B4C. You can see it by clicking here.

By the way, my mouthpieces are all manufactured in the USA, not China!

If you have any questions, please do not hestitate to contact me. My email is: grabnerwg@gmail.com