Piano builder strikes new tune with help from igus
Polymer bearings are centerpiece behind design of unique hammer assembly
An England-based piano builder is striking a new chord in the design of the centuries-old musical instrument by incorporating tribopolymer components from igus in a unique hammer ...
An England-based piano builder is striking a new chord in the design of the centuries-old musical instrument by incorporating tribopolymer components from igus in a unique hammer system that offers supreme longevity, climate resistance and improved playability and sound performance.
The components from igus in Phoneix’s D3D Hammer System are two-millimeter roller bearings that are used as center points for the bushless system. The pins offer smooth operation and with approximately a 30 percent increased diameter, are stronger, smoother and more dimensionally precise than traditional wire center pins. Extensive design and 3D printing work with igus allowed Phoenix to create the new hammer system. igus, based in Cologne, Germany, runs its UK operations from Northampton and its North American operations from Providence, R.I.
“These ultra-high-grade pins offer buttery-smooth operation, and with approximately a 30 percent increased diameter, are stronger, smoother and more dimensionally precise than traditional wire center pins,’’ said Phoenix founder Richard Dain. “igus was of the utmost help to us in their selection and provision of material for our hammer flange assemblies.”
Improving the hammer assembly
Dain, an accomplished engineer, pianist and committed patrons to the arts, turned his attention to improving the inherent limitations of the traditional hammer assembly. A piano’s hammer assembly consists of a "hammer flange” - the part that is fixed in place within the overall action – a hinged shank – which defines the flightpath of the hammer - and the hammer itself. The flange, shank and hinge are traditionally made from hornbeam, a type of hardwood that when well finished is very smooth and often compared to ivory.
Although relatively strong, hornbeam is prone to changes in temperature and humidity, like all other woods. It is also difficult to produce with consistent material properties. No two pieces are quite the same. Over time shanks can warp and drift and require regulation adjustments if a piano is to respond uniformly, predictably and with even sound.
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