Jun 25, 2015 | By Simon

Among all of the possible objects that can be created to show the potential use of additive manufacturing for creating ready-to-use products, musical instruments are among the best.  While many standalone static objects can highlight details such as print resolution, weight, color and textures, 3D printed musical instruments also test the acoustic properties of the material and also encourage some very intricate and interesting designs - many of which are entirely hollow and are only capable of being manufactured by way of additive manufacturing techniques.    

While many 3D printer manufacturers have produced 3D printed instruments to highlight the capabilities of their machines, many of these have been created using SLA or SLS 3D printers … but what about the capabilities of an FDM or an FFF 3D printer?

Recently, Michael Tyson, a 3D design engineer and distributor of 3D printers in Australia, took it upon himself to design and 3D print a FDM electric guitar using Polymaker’s PolyMax PLA filament on the UP Box 3D printer.  

Tyson -  who operates 3D Printing Solutions Australia, the country’s number one supplier of 3d printers and supplies -  found inspiration for the aesthetic direction of the guitar design through the French suits found in standard deck of playing cards; the final design of the guitar incorporates the four different suits embossed into the body of the guitar with a split depth shadow gap.

Because the guitar was to be produced by additive manufacturing rather than traditional manufacturing techniques, this provided Tyson with some breathing room to explore various forms in his guitar design - such as adding multiple layers to the body to give it more depth while also keeping the overall weight low and the design ergonomic.  

Once all of the parts were created, they were printed using Polymaker’s PolyMax™ PLA, which features Polymaker's patented Jam-Free technology for helping stabilize the heating process of the filaments.

Because the parts were to be printed on the desktop UP box 3D printer, which features a 205x205mm bed size, the design was split up into four separate parts.  Once each of the parts were printed, they were glued back together again using a two-part epoxy resin.  To ensure that there were no imperfections on the guitar, Tyson used a Dremel hand tool and short strands of PolyMax™ PLA Filament to bond and clean up seam lines that were left behind from the assembly.  Ultimately, the final product looks like it was printed in one piece rather than in four separate sections.    

Finally, the guitar was then post-processed with a plastic primer and followed by a high build primer before being lightly sanded down in preparation for a basecoat of blue metallic paint.  Once the blue paint had dried, a clear coat lacquer was added to ensure that the finished surfaces would be protected from light dings and scratches.  

Of course, while the guitar might look absolutely amazing, the ultimate test comes down to the sound; at the core of the guitar - where the pickups and bridge are located - is a plank of Queensland Mahogany, which helps create a high quality and deep sound with a consistent sustain.  For the other components of the guitar that weren’t 3D printed, Tyson used an online supplier to source the parts, which ended up being around $500.

Needless to say, while there was certainly a lot of finishing work involved, this is one of the most impressive 3D printed guitars we’ve seen.  For those interested. PolyMaker is planning on releasing the STL files for those who want to create their own 3D printed guitar on their website soon.




Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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