Imagine you’re a new parent with a toddler crawling around on the kitchen floor. You accidentally drop a liquid-filled bottle. If made of glass, the bottle shatters; if plastic, it bounces. The benefit of the latter material seems obvious.
When that parent considers things like the Pacific Garbage Patch, which will continue to pollute the world that the crawling toddler will eventually walk around in, plastic’s drawbacks seem obvious.
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The conflict becomes murkier when plastic’s penetration into different areas of life is considered. Case in point: Did you know that they can now make brass musical instruments out of plastic? British design engineer and musician Hugh Rashleigh teamed up with Steven Greenall, chairman of brass instrument company Warwick Music and Chris Fower, a professional brass instrument performer and teacher, to create a series of ABS instruments with professional-level sonic qualities. Here’s Mike Lovatt, Professor of Trumpet at the Royal Academy of Music, demonstrating the pTrumpet:
So why plastic? Again, we go back to children. For a parent seeking to provide their child with a classical education replete with musical instruction, brass instruments are a pricey proposition. A beginner trumpet costs between $400 and $1,100, according to instrument dealer Amro Music. The pTrumpet starts at around $100 to $150–and weighs less than half as much. And being made of ABS means the pTrumpet is less liable to get banged up.
The company producing the pTrumpet is actually called pBone, as their line-up started with a trombone. Today they make the trombone, a trumpet and a cornet, as well as a pTrumpet “hyTech” version that comes with aluminum valve caps, a brass mouthpiece, metal water keys and a convincing metallic finish to make it visually indistinguishable from the real thing:
The pBone and its siblings are technically impressive feats of design and engineering. And on the plus side, reviews and case studies from educators are effusive on everything from cost to durability to ease of integration in lessons. On the negative side, it should be noted that the company’s FAQ doesn’t say anything about recycling. So what say you, yea or nay? Is this an overall positive, negative, or impossible to say?