Wednesday - September 4, 2013

Bayer MaterialScience and partners develop prototype interactive cello

Music made visible

Transparent polyurethane body makes it possible to incorporate dazzling optical functions
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Together with its partners, Bayer MaterialScience has developed a concept for a futuristic cello. The use of a transparent plastic material based on aliphatic polyurethanes makes the instrument lightweight and also makes it possible to incorporate a whole series of optical effects.

Leverkusen, September 2013 – Many children and young people, as well as adults, dream of learning a musical instrument that is not only easy to play but also easy to carry around. Making music is even more fun when it is associated with completely new and special experiences. Bayer MaterialScience has taken on the challenge of making this dream a reality, and together with its partners is developing a concept for a futuristic cello. The use of a transparent plastic material makes the instrument lightweight and also makes it possible to incorporate a whole series of optical effects.

The company is exhibiting a visionary prototype of this “Cello 2.0” at K 2013, at its Stand A 75 in Hall 6. Visitors to the plastics trade fair can examine the cello’s design and functionality for themselves and can experience it in action – along with other musical instruments made of Bayer plastics. The results can also be transposed to the design of future keyboard, plucked and wind instruments.

The futuristic body of the cello is made of a crystal-clear cast resin that can easily be molded into the desired shape. The specific resin used is an aliphatic polyurethane. Shortly before casting, the polyurethane is prepared from two liquid, solvent-free components from Bayer MaterialScience’s Desmodur® and Desmophen® product lines. Depending on the components selected, the materials can be adapted to the specific requirements in terms of hardness and flexibility.

Also playing a role here is the ergonomic shape of the instrument, for which Teams Design Company is responsible. It has been a partner in Bayer MaterialScience’s designer network for a couple of years. An international team of designers led by Ulrich Schweig, head of Teams Design’s Hamburg Office, worked with samples of aliphatic polyurethane and found inspiration for new applications.

“We were all enthralled by the dream of making the Cello 2.0 an interactive musical instrument. We accepted the challenge and wanted to implement it as a joint project to which each partner could contribute its own skills in such a way that they would complement one another perfectly,” Schweig says. “There was also the question of how the inherent beauty of string instruments could be enhanced by incorporating innovative functions,” says Mélanie Dick, innovation manager at Bayer MaterialScience’s Creative Center and head of the project.

Teams Design asked professional and amateur musicians for their input. “Music students want to be able to tune the instrument using color signals, know whether they are playing the right or wrong notes or even have the beat displayed for them. Professional musicians, on the other hand, dream of special lighting effects or even video presentations during live performances,” explains Dick.

There is a clear trend toward interactive instruments and increased individuality. “The requests for these features led us to recommend the use of cast resins,” says Gunnar Geiger, head of the laboratory for CASE applications at RAMPF Gießharze, an additional partner that assisted in creating the prototype. “They make it possible to efficiently produce moldings that incorporate additional functions, even in small production runs.”

A cello for the eye and the ear
The design begins with the neck and fingerboard, which are typical of electric cellos. The belly, which is made of polyurethane cast resin, is then built around it. All the technical components required for sound and visualization are integrated into the neck and fingerboard. An additional partner, Zonewicz Faserverbundtechnik, worked with the Teams Design production designers to ensure that the sound box is connected harmoniously with the functional body of the cello. Their work included optimizing the vibrational response of the materials so that the instrument produces an attractive sound.

TLD Planungsgruppe, an additional partner specializing in lighting and media design, was also involved. In one potential variant, different LEDs and mini video projectors are installed in the neck and fingerboard. The projector displays graphics or videos on the transparent front surface of the cello. A tuning device or surfaces for video jockeying (VJing) can also be installed in the instrument. In one alternative solution, LEDS and ultraflat OLED displays could be integrated directly and used to display photos and videos.

The partners are convinced that this visionary Cello 2.0 prototype can also serve as a source of inspiration for new uses of aliphatic polyurethane in electronic entertainment devices to make these developers’ dreams come true.

Making music with other materials
Bayer MaterialScience offers a whole range of additional high-performance products to meet the specific requirements of modern musical instruments. Lightweight and break-resistant saxophones, the body and keys of which are made of colored varieties of the polycarbonate blend Bayblend®, are already commercially available. Corresponding instruments made of transparent Makrolon® polycarbonate will be introduced to the market soon.

In pianos, Baydur® rigid polyurethane integral skin foam provides for an attractive resonance and good sound. Last but not least, Bayer MaterialScience also sells polyurethane raw materials for high-gloss piano coatings.

About Bayer MaterialScience:
With 2012 sales of EUR 11.5 billion, Bayer MaterialScience is among the world’s largest polymer companies. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, electrical and electronics, construction and the sports and leisure industries. At the end of 2012, Bayer MaterialScience had 30 production sites and employed approximately 14,500 people around the globe. Bayer MaterialScience is a Bayer Group company.

The company plans to exhibit these developments at K 2013 in Düsseldorf from October 16 to 23, 2013.

Further information on Bayer MaterialScience’s participation at the trade fair (Hall 6, Stand A 75), can be found at

Find more information at

Forward-Looking Statements
This release may contain forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by Bayer Group or subgroup management. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. These factors include those discussed in Bayer’s public reports which are available on the Bayer website at The company assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.

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Last updated: October 14, 2013 Copyright © Bayer AG