This blog is dedicated to the sublime instruments called nose flutes and which produce the most divine sound ever. We have chosen to discard all the native models from S. Pacific and Asia, for they need fingering to be played. We'll concentrate on "buccal cavity driven" nose flutes : the well patented and trademarked metal or plastic ones, plus, by a condemnable indulgence, some wooden craft or home-made productions.

Jul 28, 2016

Custom 3D printed Nose Flutes

Some weeks after we posted an article about the chronology in nose flute 3D printing (check here), our friend and great whistle collector Piet Visser sent us a link to a new nose flute model on In this Jun 9, 2016 entry, the author Samwell_II has redesigned (improved) the original model by Markbrocklebank, and explains:

Kind of a long process. I made one of these a while back and aside from a few problems with my old worn out print bed, everything worked great.

A few months later, I decided to make these for a family reunion. I wanted to put text on it along with a hole for a necklace or lanyard or anything like that, so I actually redesigned the whole thing. I opened the .STL in solidworks and simply remade it based on what I saw there and the measurements I got from the one I already printed. It took a couple revisions but I got a functional design and duplicated it so that it made me 6 at a time and printed out 30 or so. Overall, very happy with the design and I am very glad that someone else already made one.

Indeed, Samwell printed a nice bunch of nose flutes. Here they are, with his 3D printing machine (pictures © by Samwell P.):

So... I contacted Samwell, and asked if he'd wanted to make and sell me some samples. He kindly accepted for a very modest price, and even proposed to customize the flutes with '' instead of the original '2016' logo. The process took some time, and a little adventure happened, while the machine run out of red ABS wire: in the following flutes, the two red ones are unfinished, yet work and sound as the complete ones.

The model design follows the shape of the wooden 'vietnamese production' type, and thus doesn't yet get the whole benefits offered by 3D printing. I mean, it took a (short) time to create new and specific designs for houses built in concrete: the first reflex was to copy shapes born from the use of bricks or stones. It is only after a little while, that architects understood how to express the "reality" and the essence of concrete, designing long windows and modeling shapes as they would have done with clay. Here, the 3D printed flutes repeat a typical nose flute design which came out from wood working, while they could have (they will, in the future) gotten the full advantage of the new tech. On that very point, these flutes are obviously early 'witnesses' of a production mean that just began.

At first, when I received the flute, I was very disappointed: I was not able to produce any sound from them. I thought it was because the airway was too thick... But finally, I got able to play the little red ones. And finally understood what was going wrong. It was my mouth position. I know how to toot nose flutes, including the Vietnamese type, but the problem was due to size of my 3D printed new babies! I adapted (placing my bottom lip much upper and against the back of the mouth shield, and any of them worked fine :) Indeed, these flutes are children sized.

Now, on the sound side, these ABS flutes are not convincing. Not because of the design, not because of a lack of care in the making (contrarywise, Samwell did a great job), but because of the limitations of the home-made 3D printing. Remember the time of the first inkjet printers that you could have on your desktop... The images produced then were rather blurry and inaccurate, compared to the fine photo quality they achieve now. It is the same for 3D printers. If you except professional ones, the detail granularity is not fine enough to build a correct labium, which has to be hard, sharp and precise. So, these flutes work, but they aren't great instruments. I would compare their quality to the current Humanatone production.


I want to thank warmly Samwell P., who very kindly and generously accepted my request and worked finely and quickly. Greetings to Murray, Utah.