The second automated machine we use is a 3D printer. The parts are drawn in a 3D modeling program, and are then sent to the printer. Long spools of white or black ABS plastic are used as the stock for the printer. The 3D printer extrudes the long spools through a high temperature nozzle, fusing layers of plastic together. The parts may be hand finished at the lathe or go directly to an acetone vapor bath. The vapor bath insures part strength by further melting layers together, and leaves a high gloss finish. Some of the 3D printed parts are based on hand-turned originals, and some are conceived during 3D modeling.
Bellows are made from domestic hardwoods such as cherry, and feature a leather gusset fashioned from cow hide and lambskin. The gussets are saddle stitched to the clappers by hand. Bags are also two layers thick, and specially designed for stitching by machine.
Many people starting out on their quest to learn the uilleann pipes are often dismayed by the availability of high quality instruments with a reasonable price and wait time. Our mission is to make use of advanced automated technology to shorten wait times and improve part to part consistency, making high quality pipes available to all at a lower price.
We use two automated machines to make instrument parts. The first is a 5-axis CNC wood router. Parts are drawn using computer aided drafting software. After programming cutting toolpaths with a sophisticated computer aided manufacturing program, parts are fabricated on the machine. We use the CNC router to make stitched bellows clappers, to rough out chanter and regulator bodies, and for drone segments. The CNC wood router saves hours of time and energy.