Mark Andersen – Restoring Pipe Organs with the help of his Afinia 3D Printer
Mark Andersen is Vice President of Artisan Instruments, Inc. , a 65 year-old pipe organ restoration firm, based near Seattle, WA. He is also a concert pipe organist.
In The Beginning
Mark developed an interest in mechanics and music when he was quite young. “I had a bunch of model train sets and was constantly taking them apart and putting them together. About that time I was introduced to the pipe organ – it was a match made in heaven.”
“When in high school, I apprenticed with a North Carolina pipe organ builder and spent many an hour restoring instruments that had been made in the 50’s. It was immediately apparent to me why restoration was so difficult: There were no replacement parts available. Many of them had to be whittled by craftsmen who were few, far between and getting more scarce.”
“It was also pretty common to measure the broken parts and recreate them on CNC machines. Unfortunately, that took a long time and was really expensive. Add to this, that many pipe organ manufacturers were regional in nature and you can see why it is so difficult to find parts – everyone builds their instruments differently.”
Reproduction in 3D
Fast forward a number of years. Mark joins Artisan Instruments and realizes that 3D printing might be a way to reproduce replacement parts on a more timely and cost-effective basis.
“About a year and a-half ago I started researching 3D printers online. A number of them looked klugey, with all of the rods and wires sticking out. I read about Afinia in a CNN article, liked the compact size, look and stability. I decided to get one.”
“It was a day of celebration when we received our Afinia. Three of us in the company can use 3D CAD software so we quickly began producing parts.”
“Demand for our service started to pick up once pipe organ owners and restorers found out about our 3D printing capability. Most all of the great pipe organ manufacturers are out of business and replacement parts are not available. ”
“We’ve developed a nice business using our Afinia to manufacture replacement parts and finishing them to the original specifications, look and feel. We take great care in adding the final touches with crocus cloth, an extremely fine polishing process that yields an almost mirror finish.”