3D printers look set to change the face of manufacturing. But can you make a 3D printed guitar?
I have to say that 3D printing is a technique that has really sparked my imagination. I work in manufacturing and so the impact of 3D printers on traditional manufacturing processes is of great interest to me. If all the media coverage is to be believed then the technique could be set to completely alter the face of manufacturing. The technique of 3D printing has been around since the 1980s but has rapidly gained a wider appeal as the cost of printers has fallen. From high tech parts for the automotive and aerospace industries to mass produced consumer objects 3D printing has been described as a major game changer in the way things are manufactured. Imagine that in the future rather than going and buying a household item such as a cup or chair you purchase the design and make it yourself using your home 3D printer. The implications are immense. So I was curious, as a guitar fan to see if anyone was using the technique to make 3D printed guitars. You might be surprised to find out that 3D printed guitars are already here and I actually think they look and sound pretty good.
What is 3D printing?
3D printing is a process by which a 3 dimensional solid object is produced from a digital model. The 3D printing is achieved by the additive process where successive layers of material are laid down, one on top of the other, to produce the required 3D object. 3D printing is distinct from machining because material is added rather than being taken away, which is what happens when an object is machined. 3D printers have been around since the 1980s with the first working 3D printer created by Chuck Hull of 3D systems Corp in 1984. However, it was not until the early 2010s that the printers became widely commercially available. Are there playable 3D printed guitars?
Fancy something different in your guitar then how about the Stars and Stripes design from Odd guitars.
The quick answer to the question of whether there are playable 3D printed guitars is yes. New Zealand based Odd guitars was founded by Olaf Diegel a Professor of Mechatronics at Massey University in Auckland. Diegel had been using 3D printing for 15 years to rapidly create and test prototypes for new product ideas. However, with improvements in 3D printing technology Diegel realised that he could produce high spec finished products that could be rapidly commercialised. Being a keen guitarist it wasn’t a difficult choice as to what he was going to chose as his first project – 3D printed guitars. Odd guitars, the company founded by Diegel, are designed to take a recognisable guitar shape and, by pushing the limits of what is achievable with 3D printing, come up with some truly unique guitar designs. Odd Guitars are created by Selective Laser Sintering a 3D printing technique that builds the components of the guitar by spreading a thin layer of nylon powder which is then fused in the correct locations for that particular slice of the component. The layer is then dropped by a fraction of a millimetre ready for the next nylon layer to be laid down. The typical layer thickness is 0.1 mm. The guitar is constructed from a 3D printed body attached to a solid wood core with recesses for the pick-ups. All hardware such as pick-ups, bridge, neck and tuners are high specification off the shelf and are simply bolted into the body of the guitar. Because the core of the guitar is still wood, Odd guitars typically use Mahogany or Maple, they claim that the resonance and sustain of the guitars are excellent. However, the designs possible through 3D printing are simply not achievable through normal guitar production techniques and so the instruments are truly unique. Whatever the arguments against the technique the look and sound that they can produce are amazing. Check out for yourself how good these guitars look and sounding by watching the video below.
The guitars have been commercialised and so if you are tempted you can own a piece of 3D printing history and a unique instrument. To find out more about 3D printed guitars from Odd Guitars visit their website using the link below.
3D Printed Guitars from Odd Guitars.
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