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Ottawa Symphony Orchestra and Canada Makes Announce the Winner of the National 3D Printed Musical Instrument Challenge

Ottawa, 14 June, 2018 – Ottawa Symphony Orchestra and Canada Makes are pleased to announce Robert Hunter as the winner of the National 3D Printed Musical Instrument Challenge for his design for clarinet and brace which improve the ergonomics of the instrument by redistributing the weight of the instrument to larger muscle groups compared to traditional instruments. The award will be presented to Robert Hunter in person at Ottawa Symphony’s Open House event on Thursday, June 14th between 5-7pm at Dominion Chalmers (355 Cooper St.) in Ottawa.

“I was interested in this competition because of my combined background in biomedical engineering including biomechanics, 3D CAD design, and music. I used to play clarinet a lot in high school, and when I would practice for long periods my right thumb would become sore from supporting the weight of the instrument. So when I read about this competition, this problem immediately sprang to mind for something I could try and solve.” – Robert Hunter


The National 3D Printed Musical Instrument Challenge asked participants to improve or design an ergonomically optimized musical instrument that leverages the power of 3D printing (metal or polymer) for its fabrication, while remaining cost-effective. The designers were encouraged to consider how they could contribute to solving the epidemic of performance related injuries among professional musicians and music students by addressing root causes of the issue insofar as it relates to instrument design.

“Hunter’s design directly addresses an ergonomic injury risk to the musician and his proposal included an assessment of both playing aesthetic and technical demands. Bravo!” – Dr. John Chong.

“While music lifts the soul, many musicians – professionals and amateurs alike – struggle to perform due to injury. This challenge was an invitation to designers to employ new technology to the benefit of musician’s health. We were so pleased with all the creative ideas we received, and specifically, to award the KUN Prize to Robert Hunter.”– Alain Trudel

Applicants represented regions across Canada, a variety of levels of design experience and wide-ranging innovative 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.

As the winner, Robert Hunter will receive the KUN Prize, valued at over $35k, which includes a fabrication and fitting budget, a 5min piece of music commissioned for the instrument, performance of the instrument at the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra’s 3D StringTheory concert on November 4th, and a $5k cash prize. The KUN Prize is sponsored by Marina Kun, President of KUN Shoulder Rests Inc., and fabrication is sponsored by Precision ADM and Axis Prototype Inc.

List of Adjudicators
Dr. John Chong, Medical Director of the Musicians’ Clinic of Canada
Judith Robitaille, musicians’ occupational therapist and professor at Université de Sherbrooke
David Saint John, Director of Innovation at Linamar Corporation
Gilles Desharnais, President of Axis Prototypes Inc.
Alain Trudel, Music Director of Ottawa Symphony Orchestra
Mary-Elizabeth Brown, Bielak-Hartman Concertmaster Chair of Ottawa Symphony Orchestra
Ben Glossop, Principal Bassoonist of Ottawa Symphony Orchestra
Travis Mandel, Principal Trumpet of Ottawa Symphony Orchestra

About the 3D StringTheory Project:

3D StringTheory asks:
What new instruments and sounds can we create using today’s newest technologies?

To explore the new creative possibilities that technology brings to music, the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra has commissioned Ottawa violin maker Charline Dequincey and the Industrial Technology Centre in Winnipeg to create original 3D-printed string instruments. Montreal-born composer Harry Stafylakis will write an original piece of music inspired by these new sounds. The Ottawa Symphony Orchestra will present the final product of these collective efforts in a live performance of Stafylakis’ piece, featuring the new instruments on November 4th, 2018.

The project will also feature public competitions involving instrument making and design challenges for youth, university students, and professionals. The 3D Printed Musical Instrument Challenge is the first competition to be announced.

The full process of creating the 3D-printed string instruments will be documented through a video series available for the public to follow and engage with online and through social media.

3D StringTheory explores how today’s new technologies, like 3D printing, can further expand musical boundaries.

For more information and to follow our project, visit: https://ottawasymphony.com/3dstringtheory/

This is one of the 200 exceptional projects funded through the Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter program. With this $35M investment, the Council supports the creation and sharing of the arts in communities across Canada.

About Canada Makes
Canada Makes is a network of private, public, academic, and non-profit entities dedicated to promoting the adoption and development of advanced and additive manufacturing (AM) in Canada. It is an enabler and accelerator of AM-adoption in Canada. The network covers a broad range of additive manufacturing technologies including 3D printing; reverse engineering 3D imaging; medical implants and replacement human tissue; metallic 3D printing and more.

The National 3D Printed Musical Instrument Challenge is an addition to the series of Pan-Canadian 3D Printing Challenges hosted by Canada Makes. The adoption of digital manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing requires new approaches to skills and training focused on building experiential and collaborative learning.

About Marina Kun

While raising four daughters, Marina entered the world of violins and shoulder rests. In 1972 her late husband, Joseph Kun, an Ottawa-based violin and bow maker designed and patented a revolutionary shoulder rest. When Marina joined the business in 1974, she took a tiny company selling only dozens of shoulder rests and turned it into a global market leader creating a household name in the international strings world. Creating the ‘KUN’ brand almost from scratch, her company now holds dozens of global patents and has the widest product range in the industry with no less than 80% of the world.

The KUN name has become an icon in the music industry and is one of the only Canadian companies that is a major manufacturer in the music world. In 2005, Marina’s company received the Design Exchange and National Post Gold Medal for Industrial Design for the Voce rest.

Marina was designated one of Canada’s top 100 Women Entrepreneurs in 2006 by PROFIT, and Kun Shoulder Rest Inc. received the Business of the Year Award by the Canadian Lebanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (2004).
Full text: https://womensbusinessnetwork.ca/download.php?id=134

Media Contact:
Angela Schleihauf, Ottawa Symphony
marketing@ottawasymphony.com

613-983-7201