How Salvi Harps are Designed with Simulation
Shawn Wasserman posted on January 15, 2014 |

Few things sound as beautiful as a harp ringing from the fingertips of a master harpist. However, there is quite a lot of engineering that goes into designing and building these angelic instruments. To aide in this process, Salvi Harps recently announced the selection of MSC Nastran and SimXpert to perform their engineering analysis.

Harps are made of brass, steel, and wood. Only wood is used to produce the structure of the instrument, while the metals are reserved for the instrument’s mechanics. Salvi has been producing harps for over 50 years and have been looking to improve the performance of their instruments with the help of modern day technology.

Though a tried and tested harp material since the Greco-Roman era, wood does introduce some interesting engineering challenges to harp design. As an anisotropic material, every batch of wood harvested will have varying mechanical characteristics.

Salvi uses numerical simulations and experimental data for their evaluation and calibration designs. Due to the large internal loads seen within the harp, simulations have led to increased structural integrity of the design while correlating to experimental data.

Simulation software that allows for the whole design of the harp into the model using multidisciplinary workplaces will reduce the interpretation errors that may propagate in point simulations. Furthermore, using CAE templates to assign string forces has helped Salvi engineers cut their work time by 60% compared to manually assigning forces.

Once the simulation was completed, the models highlighted issues that Salvi had up till then only hypothesised about. This analysis then allowed for an improved structure and improved performance acoustically. "SimXpert and MSC Nastran were essential for the structural optimization of some parts of the harp that are critical to the instrument timbre," said Giorgio Peirano, Head of the R&D Department at Salvi Harps.

With the help of simulation, Salvi was able to further optimize an instrument so perfect it was already thought to be an instrument of the gods.

Image and source courtesy of MSC Software

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