Laser cut flute

Sweet sounds from a musical student workshop

Using technical expertise to explore – and indeed change – the way that people interact with and experience music is Yale student Lamtharn Hantrakul’s passion. Deep in the midst of a double major in Applied Physics and Music Composition, this latest project is playing a sweet tune.

In a process that goes from raw materials to fully resolved instrument in just 2 hours, the making of a laser cut flute forms the basis of a student workshop that gives new meaning to the concept of being hands-on with your music.

Referred to as a ‘fluterecorder’, the design is modelled on a traditional Thai flute called the Khlui.

The decision to use a laser cutter was made because it is a workflow that is easily accessible to students, as opposed to power tools that require a greater learning curve and level of supervision. An added bonus is that the laser cutter can be used to create custom etchings, enabling each student to individualise their design.

Click through to learn more and see a brief clip of the flute being played, with considerable prowess.  

The laser cutting process uses a rotary stage designed to hold curved objects for custom etching.

“It is in fact not designed to cut holes in tubes. We designed a special device that fits onto the Rotary Stage and also grips onto the flute. A small sacrificial wooden dowel can slot in the middle and prevent the laser from damaging the diametrically opposite side.”

Now that the basic instrument has been resolved, there is talk of pushing the DIY envelope even further with an embedded Arduino-powered lightshow that responds to the musician’s actions. That would certainly add a 21st century twist to this traditional instrument.

CEID flute via Hantrakul

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