July 24, 2015 | By Alec

While we’ve seen a few 3D printed instruments pass by over the past year, few have been as inspiring and amazing as the 3D printed guitars by Italian designer Francesco Orrù. Hailing from the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, just over the last month we’ve seen his amazing 3D printed HP lovecraft-inspired guitar and even, just this week, an actually wearable 3D printed Lich King helmet (not an instrument, but very cool nonetheless). But Francesco is already back for more, having just shared the designs for his 3D printed 4theswarm guitar, featuring a gorgeous intricate pattern that has been inspired by nature.

If the name of Francesco Orrù sounds a bit familiar, that’s probably because you might know him as one of the in-house designers at MyMiniFactory, where he specializes in Zbrush digital sculpting. In the real world, he is also a master’s student at Kingston University and an avid guitar player. Those hobbies were logically brought together into these amazing 3D printed guitars, of which 4thswarm is just one example. The name, incidentally, is derived from the designer’s Starcraft nickname.

As he explains to 3ders.org, he previously didn’t even think about 3D printing the full body of an electric guitar. ‘But after a few months of experiments and testing, I'm very happy to have completed my third electric guitar body, working entirely in ZBrush,’ he says, adding that it was largely done as an experimental piece.‘ I've decided to create the third one to carry on my collection and studies about 3D printing instruments.’

And as a ZBrush expert, it is quite logical that he completely relied on that software during design. ‘I've started the project using a base mesh of my old guitar, the HR Giger model. The software that I've used was Zbrush during all the workflow, including the the joints optimisation,’ he says. ‘The Zbrush sculpting that I did this time was my personal concept including the shape of the guitar.’ The design itself was inspired by nature, and in particularly animals that are symbolic of power: the lion, the shark and the eagle. ‘Air, ground and sea all together in the same piece,’ the designer says.

But as you can probably understand, the workflow itself was quite complex. The entire designer started out with a solid silhouette of a guitar body, which he borrowed from a previous design. The border polygons were first drastically decreased using various brushes (mostly a trim curve brush). ‘I then split the model into 7 parts during the sculpt, checking carefully the printability of each individual piece. Every time that you create a subtool in Zbrush for 3D printing is always a good idea to think about the support needed and if there is a way to speed up the printing,’ he advises us.

The animal concepts were then added by starting off with three spheres being added to the body. ‘I like to explore shapes and build everything from the primary forms, even if there are much faster ways in ZBrush like IMM and various tools that you can always add into your sculpt to speed up the process,’ he explains. ‘Having an extreme passion for creature design and bones, horns and creepy shapes, I sculpted also the borders of the design reminding a spine structure for the handle and a scale-like texture on the bottom side of it. I personally liked the end of the sculpting. Not an hyper detailed one but I've tried to focus more on the optimization of the entire product.’

But the most time-consuming process when sculpting an intricate guitar like this is the dynamesh phase during joint creation. ‘Using selections and masking you can basically obtain a very clean result even if you can’t check the proper thickness of the gaps. To do that I just compared the gaps of the new guitar with an old model and increased it a bit more to allow even the possibility to the user to sculpt a different part and replace it with a new one without much effort,’ he reveals.

The final design step consisted of realizing the pickup cover and a volume pots cover, which were fairly straightforward. Now you might wonder what’s so special about this design, as Francesco already did a few times before, but as he explains to 3ders.org, this design has been radically more efficient and easier to 3D print. ‘On the top left part of the body I decided to create a handle that fits in the design flow, and at the same time reduce a lot of material, allowing the guitar to be much lighter than the previous concepts,’ he reveals. ‘The body seems to be much lighter than the previous guitar, in particular the HP Lovecraft model. This is due by the top part of the guitar, in particular the open handle.’ Furthermore, the combination of the lion and the eagle add the possibility of a strap.

But perhaps most importantly, 3D printing this guitar will be much easier than was the case for the previous models. ‘This time everyone will be able to print this guitar on a normal desktop 3D printer: Replicator, Ultimaker, Dremel, Zortrax, etc. Not only using a Wasp machine,’ he says. ‘There is also a drastic decrease in terms of printing time: around 65 hours of printing vs over 100 hours for the previous guitars. A good 35-40% less so.’

Interested in 3D printing this fantastic guitar yourself? You can find on the designs on myminifactory here. Of course you will still need to purchase quite a few electronic components to make this guitar fully playable, but fortunately Francesco provided a list that you can find below. But even with those added costs you’ll still get your hands on a fantastic and very affordable guitar.

 

 

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