In the heart of Helsinki, a groundbreaking musical innovation will captivate audiences. Known for its striking modern architecture and innovative music scene, the Helsinki Music Center opened in 2011, unveiling a modern marvel in the world of organ music. On January 1, 2024, the centre’s new organ debuted at a gala concert by French organist Olivier Latrys, featuring the world’s first 3D-printed biocomposite pipe.
Made from the wood biocomposite UPM Formi 3D developed by Finnish paper and forest products manufacturing company UPM (Nasdaq Helsinki: UPM), these playable facade tubes represent a fusion of traditional craftsmanship and cutting-edge technology. UPM Formi 3D is known for its superior properties, including functionally enhanced lignocellulosic fibres. This “drop-in” material is easy to use and offers high-definition production capabilities and wood-like post-processing properties. The biocomposite is manufactured in Finland and travels to the Spanish city of Burgos for the 3D printing process. The final stop was the Austrian organ manufacturer Rieger Orgelbau, where the organ was handcrafted and assembled, then disassembled and shipped back to Helsinki for final reconstruction in the Music Center’s Concert Hall.
The journey of the organ pipe extends far beyond the wonders of playable 3D-printed faÃ§ade tubes. These traditional sound-producing elements have a long history, dating back over a thousand years. Traditionally, pipe organs were made from metal or wood, shaped and polished using ancient techniques passed down from generation to generation. These pipes connect the ancient art of organ building with the latest 3D-printed hardware and materials, resulting in an instrument reconciling centuries of craftsmanship with modern innovation.
Sustainability and music come together harmoniously in this project. This biocomposite uses fine cellulose fibres that are ideal for large-scale 3D printing and are 100% recyclable, making the organ super eco-friendly. The material’s acoustic properties enhance the sound quality of the pipe organ, providing a rich, immersive listening experience.
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