The Future of Guitar Will be 3D-Printed ?

2012 is finally over… And hopefully 2013 will be a good year for everyone. I certainly hope it will be a more productive year for the blog that I maintained under the radar for the last few months. So let’s start the blogging machine again, and let’s be prospective…

For several months now, 3D-printing is becoming a trendy topic. Making an object as easily as printing a document… That’s almost the hobbyist DIYer dream. According to some people, 3D-printing that appeared during the 1980s will soon be a generalized technique.

I don’t believe that in 2013 we will all have a 3D printer at home to make our own very unique guitars. But I think that luthiers, guitar artisans and crazy DIYers could have an interest for that technique. At least, 2012 was the year of the first original 3D-printed guitars.

That’s the case of the Spider, Scarab and Atom guitars made by ODD Guitars, a New Zealander company founded by Olaf Diegel. All these guitars are made the same way : a nylon structure built around an wooden inner core (rather similar to the ES like guitars construction).

spider-odd-guitar

The 3D-printed acoustic guitar made by Scott Summit of Bespoke 3D Systems is even more impressive. According to him, he never thought that the guitar would resist the strings tension. And yet it did ! According to him again, he managed to make it sound great. Too bad there are no sound samples or videos to hear how it really sounds.

3d-printed-acoustic-guitar

Plastic guitars are not a new idea. It’s quite an old concept actually. I particularly think about Mario Maccaferri’s acoustic guitars though history will remember him as the luthier who designed the D-hole Selmer guitars.  I’m also thinking about the electric guitars from the brand Switch Music that were made of vibracell (patented composite material).

None of these guitars were very popular with guitarists ! Could 3D-printing change that ?

The advantage of 3D printing is flexibility. Thus, one would be able to customize the instrument at will in order to make a unique instrument just like a luthier would.

The disadvantage of 3D printing is about the materials used. I’m not a purist so I don’t really care whether a guitar is made of wood or not. But I know for certain that all materials are not equal in terms of acoustic properties.

What I can easily imagine though is luthiers who would use 3D-printing to produce customized hardware in small quantities (like control buttons, pickguards,…) to suit their needs or effects builders who would make their own chassis fitting their own specifications (for example).

Obviously, I don’t think we will see that very soon because 3D-printed instruments are quite expensive (around $3000) and the cost of 3D printer is still prohibitive but still, I’m asking the question… Do you see a future for the 3D-printed guitars ?

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