Realize Inc. and Outdoor Ukulele Hit the Right Notes

A staple in Hawaiian music, the ukulele’s name roughly translates as “jumping flea,” a tribute to the player’s fluttering fingers as they play the small, traditionally wooden instrument. It goes to say that given the busy, flea-like strumming involved, you can’t just make a “uke” out of anything. It’s got to be durable, and it’s got to sound good.

Outdoor Ukulele makes ukes designed for the outdoors, engineered for durability and tone so active uke enthusiasts around the world—backpackers, campers, mountaineers, sailors, students and more—can take them anywhere. When the company was perfecting its new tenor ukulele, they required the same durability in a quickly produced prototype. Enter Indiana rapid prototyping service provider and user of 3D Systems SLA machines, Realize Inc., which made a complete instrument for Outdoor Ukulele.

Realize Inc.’s project lead, Brian Cazzell, says that Outdoor Ukulele was having trouble finding someone who could build a full-scale prototype of its tenor ukulele using polycarbonate-like resin. The final instruments are injection-molded from glass-filled polycarbonate, and the prototype needed to be as close as possible in size and strength to the final instrument.

“Our biggest challenge with prototyping an instrument is receiving a part with the tolerances required to make it playable. The scale length and fret locations need to be exact,” said Outdoor Ukulele’s Scott Seelye. “Realize was the only company that was willing to attempt a part this size, which we would use as a working instrument.”

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Original article posted here.