Dec 14, 2015 | By Alec

While 3D printing is still largely a desktop affair, over the last two years or so we’ve occaissionally reported on what could be a glimpse of the future. South African 3D printing company Fouche 3D Printing, led by engineer and chololatier extraordinare Hans Fouche, has been testing the limits and potential of FDM 3D printing with the help of a remarkable 3D printer: the Cheetah. Lightening fast, as big as a garage and fed ith plastic pellets, he has already built a wide range of fascinating products, from a 3D printed lawnmower and more recently even a plastic car jack fully capable of supporting the weight of a car. However, all that wasn’t enough for Fouche, as he has just completed work on a remarkable 3D printed acoustic guitar.

Now regular readers might remember a few other 3D printed guitars, but virtually all we’ve seen so far are electric. Though cool and impressive, a reliance on electric amplification is slightly easier as you don’t need to 3D print a proper acoustic sound container (which the hollow body of an acoustic guitar actually is). However, with this first prototype Hans Fouche has realized exactly that. It can even be played, as you can see in the clip below. The sound quality of the clip isn’t so great, but camera (rather than the guitar) is at fault for that. More footage should follow shortly.

If the shape of the guitar looks familiar, that’s because it has been very closely modelled after the iconic wooden Yamaha guitar, Fouche tells us. But as you can imagine, it is quite challenging to 3D print such a dense, hollow guitar. As the South African designer explains, the neck was 3D printed in solid ABS, with the soundbox consisting of two 3 mm layers to make walls 6 mm thick. This does mean that the guitar is a bit heavier than a regular wooden guitar (at 3.5 kg, compared to the 2.2 kg of a wooden version). That weight should, however, change with the follow-up prototype. ‘The design of the sound-box will be changed to a single skin and reinforcing webs for prototype 2, and some reinforcement, like carbon fiber rods, [will be added] to make the neck stiffer,’ he tells us.

While very impressive indeed – and we are eagerly awaiting some quality footage of this instrument in action – the real story here is of course what this fascinating Cheetah 3D printer can do. With a staggering standard build volume of 1000x1000x1000 mm, the Cheetah 2 prints with 3mm nozzles. True to its namesake, the South African-developed machine is also incredibly fast—building up to 12 times faster than a regular desktop FDM 3D printer. According to the specs, it has a flow rate of 500g rams per hour with the 3mm nozzle, with the option to upgrade up to 2000 grams per hour. Likes its predecessor, the Cheetah 2 3D printer retails for roughly $10,000 USD and it’s a very impressive machine.

However it is also much more than a supersized desktop machine, because it 3D prints pellets rather than filament. The pellets, which can be ABS, PLA or EVA, have the exact same composition as filament itself and only needs a different way of being fed into the 3D printer. But most importantly, they’re far cheaper than filament. Fouche buys bags of pellets intended for injection moulding machines directly from wholesellers in 25 kg bags, but the the material costs are far lower when compared to filaments – being up to ten times cheaper. ‘That cost reduction, plus the 3mm nozzle size of the Cheetah, makes all the difference. The Standard Cheetah can print up to 600 gram material per hour, and the bigger model up to 2000gram per hour. Most other 3D Printers uses an 0.5 mm nozzles, and prints up to 60 gram per hour. This makes the Cheetah’s printing material ten times cheaper, and the flowrate, 10 times faster,’ he tells us.

Hans, meanwhile, is continuously updating his machine to edge closer and closer to his ultimate making dream, and is dreaming very big. As he reminds us, his original chocolate 3D printer features eight nozzles, so why should a 3D printer be any different? But at the same time, he is happy to work on these fun and groundbreaking making options. He therefore invites everyone to send him fun and even serious making ideas. ‘Perhaps we can work together on your idea…..   We will print the first parts for you, on our machines,  and develop  it further with you. Only then will we sell you an machine!’ he says. So if you’re interested in what the Cheetah can do for you, be sure to get in touch.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Hans wrote at 2/21/2016 11:03:16 AM:

Ludwig, The Model T Ford and the Wright flyer was crap in your view then as well.... Hans

Hans Fouche wrote at 2/21/2016 9:53:24 AM:

Hi... While very impressive indeed – and we are eagerly awaiting some quality footage of this instrument in action ..... It is on YouTube..... played and recorded by Johan Heyns.... Amazing!!! Thank you, Johan.

Ludwig wrote at 12/14/2015 1:42:16 PM:

looks and sounds like dogshit

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