July 26, 2014

Back in Jaunary 2013, 3D Systems unveiled a one-of-a-kind 3D printed guitar, the Americana, embedding the rich details of New York City's most memorable landmarks including, the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, Freedom Tower, Statue of Liberty, Staten Island Ferry, Brooklyn Bridge, Yankee Stadium, St Patricks Cathedral etc. The body of the electric guitar is covered with stars and stripes.

Americana is designed by renowned artist Olaf Diegel, who has designed the famous 3D printed Scrab and Spider electric guitars in 2012. Inspired by his love for New York City and all that it represents Olaf Diegel created the Americana.

For demonstrating the complexity and sophistication that is possible with 3D printing, Diegel posted a clip (see video below) about the manufacturing process for his 3D printed guitars. He also explained that 3D printing is not going to replace traditional manufacturing, but is a complementary technology if you use it in a right way.

Diegel uses SolidWorks to easily customize any parts as he wants, such as adding customer's name, logo or band name on the back of the guitar. Once the design is done, the files are converted into .stl for 3D printing. The files were then sent to to Cubify, 3D Systems' online printing network when you can upload your file and get a price back. The guitar body is printed on an sPro 230 SLS system by 3D Systems using Selective Laser Sintering technology that uses powder as the raw material. A SLS printer fuses or sinter thin layers of powdered nylon using a laser beam to create 3D objects.

When the printing process is complete, the guitar body is ready for painting. Diegel needs first to roughly sand the part, following by priming and sanding. This is a time-consuming and painstaking process, Diegels explains in the video. It takes about three or four layers of priming to get perfectly smooth finish. Once he has got all the preparation done, he is ready to start painting. Before painting, every part on the body needs to be masked so he can paint only the bits he wants. Then he applies all the different color on the bits. Afterwards he unwraps them and the 3D printed guitar body is ready for assembly.

The Americana is available on Cubify for purchase for US$4,000.

Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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