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K-State Today

September 6, 2011



In harmony: Advanced Manufacturing Institute turns musician's idea into boon for bassoonists

By Communications and Marketing

It's a project all about hitting the right note.

Kansas State University's Advanced Manufacturing Institute worked in tune with the K-State Research Foundation and the K-State department of music to create a bassoon reed profiler, a machine that lets bassoonists make customized reeds.

The idea and details of the Maxwell Bassoon Reed Profiler belong to Susan Maxwell, K-State instructor of music bassoon and music appreciation.

"Susan approached the Advanced Manufacturing Institute to improve upon an idea and make it her own by creating new, custom equipment for making bassoon reeds," said Bret Lanz, marketing and development manager at the Advanced Manufacturing Institute.

"These machines have a small market as only serious students or professionals take the extra step to learn the reed profiling process. I would not say that profilers are in great demand. However, for those of us who use them, it's time for a new one to be made available," Maxwell said.

Maxwell sought guidance from the K-State Research Foundation to discuss legal protection options and facilitate product commercialization. The foundation contacted the Advanced Manufacturing Institute to produce professional engineering drawings, make a prototype of the profiler and provide information on which local companies could manufacture the device.

Maxwell's modernized profiler provides the freedom to experiment with different thicknesses of reeds while adding convenience by allowing multiple users of the same machine.

"My profiler uses adjustable knobs with numbered settings to help guide the user," she said. "As a college studio instructor, this allows for multiple users of the same machine. Each student simply keeps track of their preferred set of numbers instead of resetting the machine after each use."

While the Advanced Manufacturing Institute teams up with the K-State Research Foundation for various tasks throughout the year, the profiler marks the first partnership between the institute and the music department.

"The K-State Research Foundation knows there are good ideas from all parts of the university and we hope there will be more opportunities to work with the music department and others involved in creative works in the future," said Marcia Molina, foundation vice president.

Maxwell said she was pleased with the results and enjoyed working with the institute.

"I was ecstatic that we have these capabilities available at K-State, and being a faculty member I'm excited to be able to work with another part of the university," she said. "The creative process was charged with energy. Not only was the Advanced Manufacturing Institute able to take on the challenge of listening to my ideas, they were actively contributing to the overall effectiveness of the product. If I am lucky enough to have the profiler be a successful venture, I would like to explore the development of other reed tools with the Advanced Manufacturing Institute."

More information about the Maxwell Bassoon Profiler is available at http://www.bassoonprofiler.com.

The Advanced Manufacturing Institute is a part of the K-State College of Engineering, a Kansas Department of Commerce Center of Excellence and an Economic Development Administration University Center that provides engineering and business services. More information about the institute is available online at http://www.amisuccess.com.