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3D Printed Guitars [Experimental]


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Hi! This is my first time posting here. Hoping to use this as a soundboard for a crazy idea I'll be testing here in the upcoming months. (If I post anything incorrectly, and need to change anything on here let me know)

I'm skilled with 3d Printing (I'm an engineer at heart), and have been exploring how to implement the additive prototyping process to building guitars. I spent over a year modifying and experimenting with a few guitars' electronics (just enough to make them look like something from a scifi film. I'm trying to do something different, and while 3d printed guitars do not seem to be new, I have not known anyone to use the additive process as an efficient way to produce a really nice guitar without having to learn and use expensive woodworking equipment. 

Here's what I've worked out so far:

I figure, due to the way it will be printed, the guitar will probably resonate similar to a hollow body guitar, but sound and tone are something I will have to test with the first prototype. (Dubbed model SM-1b)

I first use Adobe Illustrator to design a vector (.svg) with all the measurements for everything, This allows me to accurately measure all the holes, cavities, and properly space all the parts being used for the guitar.

Next, I import the vector into Fusion 360 where I can extrude and make the template a 3d model. This has been easier than trying to build it from scratch in the program. I may make a youtube tutorial on this process eventually, just in case anyone wants to emulate this as well. It is split up so that the pieces will fit on a printer bed, and can easily be glued and pieced together.

Pictures of SM-1b model in Fusion 360:

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May make a separate post in the builds section with specifications about the guitar build itself another time perhaps.

I plan on using a CR10 3d Printer, which can print with pretty much anything I can push through it with a few upgrades. 

Let's talk plastic though.

It may not seem like a suitable replacement for traditional wood, however it does provide a few advantages to the table when we talk design. Through the additive process, nothing is wasted (ideally) and is easily modeled given meticulous measuring and re-measuring. Even if the standard choice of PLA or ABS filaments are not strong enough to make a durable guitar, there exists a poly-carbonate filament that would definitely fit the profile of that.

Again, we'll see what this material brings to the table for tonality, but there are plenty of exotic materials used for 3d printing that would be fun to experiment with as well.

 

That's all I have for now, I will try my best to keep up-to-date with this experiment. If you have questions or suggestions, I'd be happy to oblige!

 

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Interesting idea. I'd be surprised if this hasn't been attempted before. Have you tried googling 3D-printed guitars?

The biggest point of leverage the strings are going to exert will be where the neck bolts to the body, so consider where the infill needs to be thickest through the middle of the guitar up to the bridge. Maybe infill less for the 'wings' either side of the central section and behind the bridge for weight reduction and economy of filament usage.

My (very rudimentary) understanding of 3D printer filaments is that PLA is water soluble, so a sweaty player may end up leaving permanent marks on the body after a few hours at a gig unless you seal it with a coat of some kind of paint.

Tonality - who knows. People argue about the tonal differences of various woods and construction methods all day long. Anything'spossible if you also add plastics to the mix. I suspect you'll largely ignore the hyperbole and just enjoy it for what it is - an electric guitar squeezed out of the nozzle of a 3D printer's extruder.

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10 hours ago, curtisa said:

Interesting idea. I'd be surprised if this hasn't been attempted before. Have you tried googling 3D-printed guitars?

I have, actually. There’s little documentation for them, but it’s been done before (unfortunately I’m not as original as I hoped). One guy made a video about how his method was not relicatable on a consumer level printer, but I’m determined to show him otherwise.

10 hours ago, curtisa said:

The biggest point of leverage the strings are going to exert will be where the neck bolts to the body, so consider where the infill needs to be thickest through the middle of the guitar up to the bridge. Maybe infill less for the 'wings' either side of the central section and behind the bridge for weight reduction and economy of filament usage.

My (very rudimentary) understanding of 3D printer filaments is that PLA is water soluble, so a sweaty player may end up leaving permanent marks on the body after a few hours at a gig unless you seal it with a coat of some kind of paint.

I agree, that’s the plan. The infil would work fine at about 30-40% (which might be overkill to be honest) with a shell of atleast 3mm or higher. The biggest advantage I think this will have is the weight. I’m not too worried about PLA disolving since I do plan on finishing them, but what I am curious to see is how it holds up to constant stress, weathering, and temperature. Good news is, PLA is a lot more rigid than ABS. Just means I have to beat this prototype up and see how much pain it can take.

Thanks for you’re feedback!

10 hours ago, curtisa said:

 an electric guitar squeezed out of the nozzle of a 3D printer's extruder.

This is probably the best motto

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  • 1 month later...

The idea is interesting. Some people made guitars on a 3d printer. These guitars can be played as on normal electric guitars, you can connect the phone and start a minus or drum machine and so on. But they are more like a toy than a musical instrument. In addition, it requires a lot of time and materials. It takes 3-4 days and you need 1.5-2 kg of plastic. I think it's easier to make a "classical" guitar made from wood at home. The main thing is that you would have skills to work with a tool for woodwork, a drawing for making guitars, as well as all the necessary tools. Or do you want to make a sort of travel guitar made of CFRP?

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