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Discussion Starter #1
I wonder about an aluminum sax that is anodized. they are great even in salt environs. form it all anealed then heat treat to get it good and hard. it will be lighter than brass ( about 1/3 the weight) and more corossion resistant. hard anodize can be done in colors too. its not as shiny though.

I also think a stainless steel sax might work for me.

composites seem a bit of a stretch to me but possible. likely way to expensive. an interesting aspect would the methods. layup on an IML mandrel. perhaps some material to melt out at cure-allowing duplication of any model IML people like. I also like the idea of winding or fiber placed tape.

has anyone used metal spinning to make a sax? it can produce some interesting shapes with aluminum and i believe brass. im not sure about steel.
 

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I am really amazed that several companies haven't started building plastic bodied saxophone in masses. After all Grafton toyed with this years ago. Injection molding is a lot cheaper than working with brass. Aluminum might not be any cheaper than brass to build but I bet it would work.
 

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I am not an expert on metals, but I think there are problems with aluminum. You can't extrude it, I think, so you'd have to heli-arc weld the chimneys, right? Not too pleasant with those thin little crescents. The aluminum flutes use a very thick body, almost like wood, with the tone rings cut down into it (ever see a wooden flute?). This would not be easy on a sax body, and the thickness might well make the horn relatively heavy. How to attach posts and guards? They would have to be made out of another metal, since aluminum is just too soft for friction points. Likewise keys and axles, I would think. Altogether why would anyone take the troube and expense to do this, since brass works so nicely and anyway it wouldn't change the sound...
 

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I think clarinets would be an easier move, due to their (almost) cylindrical bore. Furthermore, being made of solid wood, you could apply a similar manufacturing process to solid aluminium bars. Saxophones are much trickier, as the tapered bore almost forces you to start from sheets. Not an easy exercise with light alloys or steel. Though possible.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Altogether why would anyone take the trouble and expense to do this, since brass works so nicely and anyway it wouldn't change the sound...
well for a tenor or bari - weight and corrosion issues.

how many excellent players play clarinet or flute because that sax is just too big and heavy.
 

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I have manufactured an aluminum clarinet just as a fabrication excercise. It can be treated pretty much as a wooden clarinet manufacture. You can even use the same cutters. A good seasoned dense piece of Grenadillo wood would even weight more or less the same. Here's the caveat: since you can't braze or solder just like a "normal" metal (wich also happens with Stainless Steel) I ended up using the posts and the keys of a student Bumdy clarinet (I know is Bundy, butt the quality of this one was deserving of the change in the middle letter to further enhance comprehension) My trials with aluminum keys were disasterous (and I consider myself a good welder/brazer/solderer) and the bearing surfaces tended to have play after what in normal use would have been like 3 moths of normal use. And if you anodize... well... have you ever heard of sandpaper and what does it does to materials in general and metals in particular? Sandpaper is aluminum oxide. Try'n anodize a post or a hinge tube and kiss goodbye your threads or your hinge rod screw or pivot point screw.

An aluminum sax would only be possible with thick (and not just "thick", VERY thick) precision cast body, and other materials for the bearing surfaces. Like undercut dovetailing for "ribs" of posts made of other materials ans affixed by screws on the body. Those areas could be thicker so the machined slots and stuff doesn't cut so near the main bore, creating the possibility of distortion. It would be way more expensive and not very practical. It would surely look unique.

The main issue I see with Stainless Steel is this:

if you have to have enough formability and enhanced machineability, you need way more lead than on brass. If you're being realistic you can't go with the series 400 stainless because the little (sometimes very little) content of steel and consequent predominancy of Nickel makes machining, staming, forming, a very hard task that given the level of precision proficiency needed for a saxophone could only be achieveable at a (ballpark calculation) 10x or more the cost of the tooling to produce the same operations on brass or other materials. If you have more steel in the alloy, it will sooner or later pit more violenty and destrctively than brass. And once pitting started on Stainless it would NOT stop if you buff/file/whatever the pitted area.

I think that even plain old steel sheet has more practical possibilities than aluminum or stainless for saxophone fabrication purposes.

And as mentioned to Alljoe in a private message, I think that the way is finding a surface treatment that would produce a thick, dense, stable oxide layer on brass, leaving it bare brass but mostly unreactive, and having a certain appeal to pretty horns lovers. A compound of materials (gold over silver over brass, or gold over brass , or silver over brass, or lacquer over brass) are all patches on the long run. Then the question's raised: Who'd want to create a horn that lasts indifenitely? Imagine if Selmer had discovered how to permanently adress pitting corrosion destruction by the '50s they'll be out of business today, since no one in his/her right mind wants a modern selmer over a MK VI.... they produced almost 200000 Mk VI's and not all of them survive today. Still they (the VI's) deprive the Selmer company from many new high end horns sales...
 

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Discussion Starter #11
a bit more on some of those other manufacturing methods.

I like the idea of spinning the bell im not sure if it works in the bow http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spun_aluminum. this is sometimes used for the ends of rocket fuel tanks.

attaching the bow to the bell or long tube body - i think the some but welding techniques would work. i like the idea of brazing or soldering though or something that could be disassembled. the problem is getting rid of steps and gaps inside the horn. something really cool would be friction stir welding it has significant up front costs for tooling and programming but repeat costs could come down.

Attaching posts and such - it seems they could be epoxied. i dont know what the best type would be but many are used in aircraft.

i think you could eliminate a lot of variation in the keys by building them as a few assemblies that are then epoxied in place. i think the tolerances could be achieved. also might consider a technique similar to circuit cards to have the solder in place and heat the assembly to flow it.

No one commented on composites yet either. admittedly expensive but i think you could get very smooth interior surfaces at very close dimensional tolerances.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
in reply to jicaino, i agree with the bare brass idea but it would require some testing. as soon as your lacquer got defects, it provides sites for contaminates to collect and likely makes things worse. oopse, that was the finish discussion. i started this one because DR G suggested not doing it in finishes.

I dont see ehy you think the aluminum needs to be so thick. ive seen plenty of thin wall stainless and aluminum tubes. I was thinking youd start with the thin spun aluminum tube then use a similar technique to make the holes. for something like the bell and bow, i was thinking just use joints or if you have a six axis machine to spin the part about different centers, you could work around the bends.

since stainless is ductile it seems there are other options than machining. 431 machines pretty well annealed. the problem i see there is heat treating a shape like a sax might give you a pretzel when finished. some of the other parts like the keys or posts though is a different story but i havent seen a lot of corroded keys.

ill admit brass seems to work pretty well with very low tech manufacturing methods. should we just give up stay like it is? probably a topic for a different thread.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
how about hard anodized aluminum keys - Ill take mine in RED. this would also reduce the weight of the horn. HMM would we need bushings in the hinge holes to prevent wear?
 

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yes we would need bushing in the hinged/pivoting tubes and in the posts if they are aluminum. And threaded brass inserts press fitted. That's cake... didn't think of that! Shame on me, I always think with my lathe instead of my head and missed the oportunity of entering the world waste of time machining championship! heheheheh
 

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I think the ideal metal may be "liquidmetal" - http://www.liquidmetal.com/

It can be cast at similar temperatures to plastic, hence relatively cheap casting processes.
Very light.
Excellent corrosion resistance.
Twice the strength of titanium.
And possibly best of all, it comes out of the mould so accurately, that scalpel blades can be simply cast without needing to be sharpened.

The downside may be that if it is given too much of a hiding, it does not bend, but fractures.
It is currently being used for strong, light cell phone cases and hinges, tennis rackets, and golf clubs.

I has has the amazing property that when hit, almost none of that energy is absorbed, it is dissipated as a rebound. Find the bouncing ball in the web site - second clip under the "Resources" tab.

It is this property that makes me think it may make a rather different sort of mouthpiece, where the reed may need less energy to keep it vibrating, energy presumably being lost with current materials, when it slaps the mouthpiece..
 

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I think the ideal metal may be "liquidmetal" - http://www.liquidmetal.com/

It can be cast at similar temperatures to plastic, hence relatively cheap casting processes.
Very light.
Excellent corrosion resistance.
Twice the strength of titanium.
And possibly best of all, it comes out of the mould so accurately, that scalpel blades can be simply cast without needing to be sharpened.

The downside may be that if it is given too much of a hiding, it does not bend, but fractures.
It is currently being used for strong, light cell phone cases and hinges, tennis rackets, and golf clubs.

I has has the amazing property that when hit, almost none of that energy is absorbed, it is dissipated as a rebound. Find the bouncing ball in the web site - second clip under the "Resources" tab.

It is this property that makes me think it may make a rather different sort of mouthpiece, where the reed may need less energy to keep it vibrating, energy presumably being lost with current materials, when it slaps the mouthpiece..
genuine thanks for this contribution.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
yes we would need bushing in the hinged/pivoting tubes and in the posts if they are aluminum. And threaded brass inserts press fitted. That's cake... didn't think of that! Shame on me, I always think with my lathe instead of my head and missed the oportunity of entering the world waste of time machining championship! heheheheh
another aspect of this i like is you may only need to bush the ends of the hinges. now you only have friction at the 2 points. youre hinge tube would need to be pretty rigid though. if it loosened up over time, you just rebush the ends and replace the spindles. you would need to tool the position of the ends pretty closely.

if the keys were just a epoxied replaceable assy, you sell one part, install it, adjust the pads and youre good to go. the bad thing about that would be all the jobs making assemblies would be out of the US and overall skill level of techs would go down just like we have with cars now. remove and replace.
 

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I don't like the epoxy assembly thing. There's other alternatives (less cheap but better thought) like local Cu plate and then solder on. Many video heads had technologies like this, and there's plenty of examples of copper plated aluminum that gets soft soldered after that in the electronic business.

the good thing about copper plate then soft soldering is that you won't see blobs of solder flowing out of your originally intended joint placement in the event of damage/repair/etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
thats a good idea. the key assemblies could be worked that way on brass saxes too. i havent seen colored keys yet. i kind of like the idea of red on black or white on black or black on white.

we seem to have lost other interest or they are all off tooling up for a change.
 

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Hey guys,
How about carbon fiber. It is light, strong and they make other instruments out of it already. Look those cellos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1wtBXkGrxws
It is my wish to make or see a carbon fiber saxophone for a while now since I got my first carbon fiber ice tools 10 years back.
Sakshama
 
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