As the field of additive manufacturing grows, we see dynamic changes in almost every industry. Since the arts are often at the forefront of new ideas, we should not be surprised to see 3D printed musical instruments helping lead the way into a new way of thinking about design.
ODD Guitars specializes in creating 3D printed instruments. It was started in 2011 by Olaf Diegel, professor of mechatronics at Massey University in Auckland, New Zealand. After beginning with electric guitars and basses, he has moved on to design a 5-piece drum kit and keyboard case, all of which have main components built by 3D printing technology. To Mr. Diegel, this brings at least two added benefits over traditional manufacturing processes: 1. Increased customization without the additional cost and 2. A more ecologically sound alternative to the rainforest-depleting hardwoods used in many high-end instruments.
Starting at $3,000, ODD Guitars are poised to be competitive with mainstream electric guitars but with highly customizable packages. Not only hardware (pickups, pegs, knobs and neck) can be hand-picked by the customer but the body can also be customized in many ways to create a more personalized guitar. This includes body color, body type and space for text (imagine having your band’s name engraved into the guitar itself).
All instruments are 3D printed by 3D Systems out of Duraform PA plastic, a tough nylon material. This means guitar bodies are light yet durable, intricate yet strong. In case the guitar hits the ground, the nylon may actually absorb some impact and keep the electronics safe. Each guitar has a solid wood core to create a deep tone while keeping the use of rare hardwoods to a minimum.
“My passion for 3D printing created one of those rare opportunities to combine my engineering design background and love of music into a new product line that breaks the mold of conventional thinking,” Mr. Diegel said in a press release through 3D Systems.
Often appearing in lists of the coolest 3D printed objects, Olaf’s ODD Guitars raise the eyebrows of, not only of musicians and techies, but also the general public. After seeing these stunning designs most people catch a vision of how technology can unlock new ways of thinking about design and manufacturing. At London’s 3D Printshow 2012, the 3D Printed Band used ODD guitars and basses to play for the VIP live show. Watch the videos here.