Finalists chosen for Ottawa Symphony’s National 3D Printed Instrument Challenge

When the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra announced its plan to make a stringed instrument with a 3D printer, it had other ideas too. The OSO also challenged, along with Canada Makes, innovative Canadians to come up with their own ideas for a 3D instrument.

The OSO has now announced three finalists in its National 3D Printed Musical Instrument Challenge. They are:

• Jared Kozub, an engineer from Winnipeg who works with metal 3D printing. He plays music too. Kozub came up with a new design for an ocarina  which is an ancient wind instrument. Kozub’s design proposes a new way to change the pitch while playing the instrument. It also offers a more ergonomic hand position.

• Robert Hunter is a PHD candidate in the biomedical program at uOttawa. He plans on redesigning the clarinet to improve the ergonomics of the instrument by redistributing the weight of the instrument to larger muscle groups compared to traditional instruments which place the majority of weight on the performer’s thumb.

• Victor Martinez, who is a classical music fan, is also a designer, instructor and faculty member at Wilson School of Design, Kwantlen Polytechnic University in B.C. He specializes in  3D design with a particular focus on furniture and cars. His design is for an electric violin with a new chin rest and shoulder rest system that would adapt to the performer.

The instrument challenge asked participants to create an instrument that doesn’t hurt its user for a reasonable cost. There is currently an epidemic of performance related injuries affecting professional musicians and music students. 

“We want to do better for the next generation of musicians. 3D printing creates the opportunity to build structures that just weren’t possible before this technology,” said Frank Defalco of Canada Makes which is a network of private, public, academic and non-profit entities that promotes the adoption and development of advanced and additive manufacturing (AM) in Canada.

Applicants came from across Canada. They had a variety of levels of design experience and offered wide-ranging solutions to common health problems among musicians. The submissions were evaluated by a panel of eight adjudicators with equal weighting between disciplines of 3D printing, music performance, and musicians’ health. 

The winner will receive the KUN Prize, worth more than $35,000. The prize includes a fabrication and fitting budget, performance of the instrument at the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra’s Nov. 4 3D StringTheory concert, and $5,000. The KUN Prize is sponsored by Marina Kun, president of KUN Shoulder Rests Inc.

The OSO commissioned Ottawa-area violin maker Charline Dequincey and the Industrial Technology Centre in Winnipeg to create original 3D-printed string instruments last year. The orchestra has also asked Montreal composer Harry Stafylakis for a piece based on these new sounds. It will also be performed in November. For more please see:

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Peter Robb began his connection with the arts community in Ottawa in the mid-1980s when he was the administrator and public relations director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. After a long career in journalism with the Ottawa Citizen where he served in a number of different posts he returned to the arts when he became the Citizen's arts editor.