Of all the potential uses of a 3D printer we have conjured up in recent months we had not come up with anything remotely close to the proposal Nathaniel Mann put to us one day earlier this year.

Nathaniel, an artist, performer, composer, singer, sound engineer and ‘sonic adventurer’ was working on a project within which he could see the flexibility of 3D printing playing a vital role. He was quickly in touch with our technical 3D printing expert – Joe Banner, and from that point on our print test schedule, and office discussions, entered a whole new dimension!

Nathaniel wanted to design and manufacture pigeon flutes – a plastic device that when strapped to a pigeon would create music in flight!

He had already made some flutes using old photographic film canisters, but the ability to design and print a flute shape exactly to his liking was about to take the project into exciting new territory.

Following a series of meetings with Joe at CoLiDo Europe, a number of different prototype stages, and rigorous testing – including Nathaniel strapping flutes to his car and driving at pigeon speed while monitoring musical output – three perfectly functioning 3D printed pigeon flutes, all producing different notes, were created.

BBC Radio 4’s ears also pricked up when they got wind on the pigeon flute project and commissioned a documentary all about Nathaniel and his work. This will be aired on 24 July at 11.30am and then made available on iPlayer.

Commenting on his collaboration with CoLiDo Europe, Nathaniel commented: “Joe enthusiastically helped to design colourful and accurately tuned whistles, which can be carried by birds in flight to produce haunting tones in the air. It was fantastic to see how quickly and easy it was to create and modify the designs.

“The Colido printers are perfect for this kind of quick-thinking prototyping work. Watching the whistles appear in 3D form from a digital model is pretty magical in itself. The whistles are lightweight and robust – just what we needed, and represent the perfect 21st century evolution from the traditional whistles made from bamboo and gourd. I’d like to say a massive thanks to Joe and the team for all their hard work and support.”

If you would like to know more about Nathaniel and his work you can visit his website at www.nathanielmann.co.uk and see a previous documentary on his pigeon flutes here