Eagle Ron Lebar, music technology

Starburst Music Technology Starburst

Strings &
Formulae &
Sine waves &
DeciBels &
Music &
Theory vs.
Lecher Line.

A proposed convention for future design.

Addressing some of the problems facing us all & issues of universal concern.

Structural materials.

Most of today's electronic musical instruments are almost entirely built from thermo-plastic materials or other polymers. They share this in common with the majority of domestic electrical & electronic items.

Even equipment intended for professional use is increasingly made from such materials. Much industrial design is moving in the same direction.

This is where some of the problems lie.

Plastics are mostly made from by-products of fossil fuels. They are useful for electrical insulation, the top surfaces of playing keys & many other such purposes. Using them for packaging, casings or structural parts wastes a limited & diminishing resource.

They are easily damaged but not readily repairable. Together with a usually cheap appearance, this reinforces a 'throw away' mentality. Leading to more wastage of resources. Products are constantly replaced, sold to a limited market able to afford them. Denying the rest of the world access to such items.


A better way.

Forget all that, build hardware items to last. The potential market is six thousand million people, it will not be saturated. As better off customers upgrade to more advanced models, a strong second hand market will make older versions available for the rest of us.

Wood grows on trees & this planet largely consists of iron & silicon. It makes sense to use wood for equipment cabinets. It is economical, strong & easily worked. The results can be stylish & attractive. Forests should be correctly managed (well organised continuous replanting), there will thus be minimal lasting impact on our environment.

Any impact will be further minimised by the long life of well built items. Effective world wide controls are needed, to conserve rain forests & protect them from profiteers.

Steel or aluminium are also good casing & constructional materials. Fabrication does however require more use of energy & comparitively expensive machines.

Thermo-plastics etc. are a false economy. O.K. the investment in manpower is less. A plastic cabinet can be moulded by a machine, tended by a lower paid, less skilled worker. Productivity is higher than other techniques. Large moulding machines are however a major investment, requiring considerable use of resources to pay for them.

There is, as someone said, 'no such thing as a free lunch'. The moulds are costly, requiring considerable skilled labour on expensive & sophisticated machinery. They need constant replacement, due to wear & the artificial pressures of fashion.

Wood & metal working machine tools are versatile. They can be set up to repeatedly produce almost any shape, then changed to make something else. This requires skilled craftsmen, these are in short supply, but why is this?

C.N.C. machines are capable of doing many of the routine precision jobs once tying up skilled people in repetitive work. They are more versatile than many 'trained' humans. Their work is usually superior to that of semi-skilled personnel. They require skilled programming, setting up & maintenance.

Robots (automatic machines) are usually an extension of C.N.C. machines. They can often 'sense' their environment or the results of their work & make compensating adjustments. Such machines can perform many mass production tasks in larger fabrication plants. This of course does not help our unemployment problem. It does however solve problems of the lack of skill & commitment amongst much of today's workforce.

Another solution, increasingly adopted, is to transfer production to countries where skill is more highly regarded. If this process continues, manufacturing & economic power will move to those countries. Eventually they may take our place in the pecking order.

We are now little more than a market, for the products of more industrious countries. A nation of shopkeepers, as Napoleon called us. Soon our only source of national income will be the finance sector. This process, begun in the sixties, accelerated in the seventies by the last Tory government, is gathering pace. Those of us with foresight saw it coming.

Building a nation's economy mainly on the business of manipulating other people's money is to build a house of cards. Over the past few years, events & changes in the far east have emphasised that. We may not be able to regain our old position, as the workshop of the world. But we can move on & lead a journey towards excellence.

E-Mail: organs@alphaentek.com , For Design Work etc.

Convention. Updated on the 25th of May 2008. Ron Lebar, Author & Proprietor.