Jun 5, 2016 | By Faith

The facilitation of art through technology is a concept that has been around for thousands of years. Employing new techniques to manufacture creative products doubtlessly results in the production of incredible new artworks – and nothing less is expected through the use of 3D printing to create beautiful new musical instruments.

Whilst the guitar is not a new invention, the capability to 3D print the instrument whilst retaining its musical qualities is an endeavour that international technologists and musicians alike have been working on for a number of years. However, one student from Griffith University on Australia’s Gold Coast has done just that as the final project in his third year of an Industrial Design degree.

Design student Adrian McCormack shows off his 3D-printed guitars

Working on the guitar’s surf-culture inspired theme and shape took Adrian McCormack approximately 40 – 60 hours of CAD design work before 200 solid hours of 3D printing could even begin. Two guitars were eventually made: of which one was 3D printed at Griffith’s Gold Coast campus in seven components, while the second was printed in one complete piece by Belgian company Materialise. “For the model printed overseas we used a bio-compatible and food-safe material called polyamide, which also ensured the body weight stayed roughly the same as a generic telecaster body”, Adrian explained. This guitar which was printed on campus also featured a unique process called ‘hot swapping’, which created the unique red and white finish.

Under the direction of Associate Professor Dr Jennifer Loy at the Queensland College of Art, Griffith University, Adrian’s project saw not only a collaboration between art and science, but between design and music.

Projects like this do an excellent job of reconnecting more traditional skillsets with contemporary manufacturing techniques. The first design was brought to reality with help from Brisbane guitar builder and technician Rohan Staples, at the renowned Guitar Shop in Paddington. His priceless experience with regards to piecing together guitars in his own workshop enabled Adrian’s guitar to retain a heritage that some argue 3D printing destroys. Admittedly, Rohan noted that he had never before assembled a guitar in which all the different pieces slotted together so seamlessly – and as Adrian put it, “I guess that’s the beauty of 3D printing”.

According to Associate Professor Loy, Griffith is working hard to develop graduates who have specialised skills in this area – an ever growing-trend within higher-education institutes all over the world. “Our Industrial Design and 3D Design Digital Media students are learning world leading software for additive manufacturing, and gaining hands-on experience of designing with advanced digital technologies, including 3D Printing, scanning and electronics for new design applications”. What’s essential to take away from this idea is that the education of manufacturing and design do not always result in purely manufacturing or design-focused careers. These contemporary skillsets, which include 3D printing as an essential new tool, look set to revolutionise a wide variety of industries – and if Adrian’s project is anything to go by, the future is going to sound pretty good.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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