3D-Printed Guitars?

The Atom guitar body was created on a 3D printer.

During the Maker Faire a few months back, I wrote about the new wave of absurdly inexpensive 3D printers, and fantasized a bit about a not-too-distant time when many of us will be printing our own guitar parts at home.

Create Digital Music — one of the music sites I visit daily — has been all over this topic recently. A few days ago, CDM kingpin Peter Kirn posted this excellent article discussing both the current limitations and eventual promise of this emerging technology. And this week Arvid Jense added this fine post focusing on six digitally printed instrument, including the eye-catching Atom guitar picture here. There are more interesting examples of luthier Olaf Diegel’s work at the Odd Guitars site.

It’s hard to get a take on how good these instruments actually sound. Veteran electric guitar tinkerers know that you can slap strings and a pickup on just about anything, and a good player can make it sound pretty decent, and the plastic compounds used in most current 3D printing aren’t likely to be coveted for their acoustic properties. But it’s hard not to be intrigued by this smooth performance from multi-instrumentalist Dean Marks:

So what would YOU print if you had one of these gizmos?

7 comments to 3D-Printed Guitars?

  • Peter

    Last sunday the SF Chron/SFGate ran a story about a 3D printed guitar, claiming it was “the first 3-D-printed guitar on the planet”. http://www.sfgate.com/technology/article/3-D-printer-turns-out-plastic-guitar-3948205.php
    I thought that didn’t sound right.
    But one thing that caught my eye was: “The one-off model used about $3,000 worth of plastic…”
    Does that sound right? Didn’t realize plastic could be so expensive.

    The Atom guitar certainly looks beautiful.

  • mwseniff

    Seems to me that the sky is the limit in design. I always thought an infinite baffle body would maybe work on guitar. It would be along the lines of the speaker cabinet design which is a box with many baffles internally. The theory is that the sound from a speaker is having to bounce off the baffles and cabinet faces many times before it finally gets to the bass port. It makes the full path very long so bass response is very good, the overall response is very flat, and they are very efficient too boot. It should have a similar effect on the resonance of a guitar.

    As far as the plastic costing $3000, it probably did. This is the baby stage of 3D printing, in a few years it should get cheaper as the printers become more widespread. It also is very strong plastic probably overkill to be safe.

  • mutz

    My first thought was: This is ugly.
    The body structure looks like some useless decorational item from a flower shop. And it’s not even an innovative design. Just a bog standard Les Paul with holes. Made of plastic. Yawn.
    But then I got a little angry.
    For the sake of innovation, this might be a reasonable project. But to me it is just another highly expensive part of what we might call “guitar pollution”.
    How many guitars exist on this planet? How many are produced every day? Does mankind really need new guitars? I don’t think so. We need to save timbers. But we don’t need new technologies to replace wood. Recycle. Only buy used guitars or build new ones from used parts. Pay the repairman, not the factory. Tell Gibson, Fender etc. that we don’t need them anymore.
    :rant: OK, rant over.
    But this is still UGLY.

    • zyon

      Stop innovating and coming up with new technologies that could help sustain our planet longer??? Yah, that’s a winning idea!

      Oh, and building guitars out of plastic is nothing new, been done for decades now and with relatively great results. Armstrong, Switch, Yamaha and B.C.Rich all come to mind.

  • Willverine

    Looks very interesting as t combines so many different things I’m interested in.
    The plastics used in a lot of these higher end machines are more high tech than your basic polyethylene resin for plastic bags as these machines are often used to make the final product not just a display model. As an example, there’s another company out there making scale model kits using 3D printers asking ~$100+ per kit when a similar kit made from injection molded styrene would be ~$20.
    I wonder if using the metal sintering type printers I could get a decent replacement made for the Ibanez Prorock’r tremolo that’s in my AM75. Or maybe you could make customized pick-ups ala Lace Alumatones.

  • Oinkus

    Will check here http://www.ibanezrules.com/parts.htm#Parts nice guy has a serious Ibeenhad affliction.

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