Finnish Flute Maker Uses Carbon Fiber Composites
A combination of modern materials, technology, and venture capital catapults Finnish flute-makers in international music spotlight.
Beauty of sound
"I was inspired by the delicate sound of the simple bamboo flute and experimented with various materials and techniques to construct a light flute frame," Matti Kähönen of Matit Flutebrothers in Helsinki recalls his inspiration to experiment with dynamic designs and acoustics in making flutes and headjoints. Using very light (60 grams) and stiff (HM or high modulus) carbon fiber materials, Kähönen generated a rich variety of volume, tonal colors and response in the woodwind instruments.
“Carbon fiber is ideal for flutes due to its lightness and vibration properties,” he says. For all woodwinds such as flute or saxophone the light material and absorption properties are important.
Professional flutists in Finland who worked with him have appreciated the high quality craftsmanship especially since innovations are still rare in this area. The company nowadays makes flutes for music students after years of developing the instruments for high-end international markets.
Creative enterprise and networking
Kähönen, an amateur flutist and award-winning industrial designer combined, has patented the use of carbon fiber and magnetic action system for all wind instruments. Today, their handmade flutes are also customized with brass, silver or titanium mechanism and with gold embouchures, although according to Kähönen the most important factor still is the variety of sound it produces.
As the oldest playable musical instrument in the world according to the Nature Journal, the flute has evolved dramatically throughout the centuries. From the wing bones of the red-crowned crane in China to natural materials like reed (17th and 18th century) and modern metals in Europe (19th and 20th century), flute-makers have innovated using science and manufacturing technologies.