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The world’s first 3D printed aluminium guitar!

by • May 3, 2016 • No Comments

The Heavy Metal 3D printed aluminium guitar:

This guitar was created to explore what metal additive manufacturing (3D printing) is capable of, and to advantageous know the intricacies of the whole process, of “create for additive manufacturing”, to the actual printing of the guitar, to the post-processing that is needd to go of a printed metal part straight of the machine to a usable masterpiece. The create of the guitar is purposefully harsh to quite hustle the limits of metal additive manufacturing.

The guitar, created by Olaf Diegel, showcases a diamond tread-plate Telecaster fashion body, with a front and back created of barbed wire (but with the barbed wire spikes kept well away of the player) and roses within the body. The guitar was originally nick-named War and Peace, but Heavy Metal seemed a additional appropriately literal name.

The entire body was printed, as a single piece, in aluminium via an EOS M400 metal additive manufacturing process. The guitar body was printed by Xilloc in Holland. The guitar showcases a maple wooden inner core, a Warmoth custom neck, Seymour Duncan pickups, a Schaller bridge, and Gotoh 510 mini locking tuners.

And a special thank you goes to the team at Xilloc for the excellent job they did in printing the guitar body!

The guitar shown in the pictures has the upcoming specifications:

Neck Warmoth Pro Telecaster maple neck with maple fret board, 22 frets, 25 1/2″ scale, 42.86mm (1 11/16″) width GraphTech White TUSQ, 6150 sized jumbo frets, 10-16″ compound radius fret board, black inlay dots
Body 3D printed Aluminium shot-peened to a smooth satin finish
Bridge Schaller 475, 6 String Flat Mount Bridge, Chrome
Pickups Neck: Hot-rodded Seymour Duncan Jazz SH2, Bridge: Seymour Duncan JB version SH4
Tuning heads Gotoh Mini 510 Locking Tuners, Chrome

Controls 5 position Pickup prefer switch, 1 x Volume knob, 1 x Tone knob
Other Schaller Strap Locks, D’Addario strings, affordable complex case for safe shipping (we can, yet, in addition contribute you a high high end case as an optional extra)
Weight 3.7Kg

Below are pictures of a few of the details of the guitar:


The Heavy Metal Guitar Manufacturing Process.

I thought it worth describing the overall process of manufacturing this 3D printed aluminium guitar in order to donate future metal AM users a advantageous thought of what the process involves.

The process of manufacturing the Heavy Metal guitar began with a CAD create of the instrument. This create was undertaken via Solidworks CAD software.

The CAD version was and so saved in STL format, the standard file format utilized by many 3D printing devices in these days, and sent to Xilloc, in Holland, for printing on their EOS M400 metal additive manufacturing process.

This process is a powder-bed fusion process that works by spreading a thin (typically 0.1mm) thick layer of metal powder, in this case aluminium powder, and and so uses a laser to trace equite particular slice of the 3D version onto the powder. Wherever the laser hits the powder, the powder gets fully melted, while the rest of the powder does not. The picture at a lower place shows a layer fo the guitar being melted by the laser.

The process is and so repeated, layer-upon-layer, until the entire guitar body has been printed.

When printing with metal, intense heat concentrations are present in the part wherever the laser is melting the powder, so sacrificial material (usually referred to as assist material) is utilized to transfer heat out of the part and into the base-plate that the part is fundamentally welded to. This prevents the part of distorting or having areas of weakness cautilized by heat stress concentrations.

The above picture shows the guitar as it came out of the additive manufacturing process. The entire guitar is welded to the base plate, and the assist material can unquestionably be seen assisting the top barbed wire strands, and all the flowers. The upcoming step is to remove the guitar of the create plate. This can be done through wire-EDM, or with a saw as shown at a lower place.

And here is the bottom face after removal of the create platform. The entire bottom surface is covered with assist material that can need to be removed:

And and so begins the toughest part of the entire project: Removing all the assist material. With relatively easy geometries, this may be done on a CNC machine. But on a harsh geometry, such as this guitar, the just way is to remove it all by hand, that can be a quite time-consuming operation.

For me, this was my initially hands-on experience in removing assist material of a metal AM part. In total, it most likely took me a total of of 4 days to remove all the assist material. Now that I have created sure techniques, and a advantageous knowing of the assist material, I may most likely cut the time in half if I had to do it again.

Here’s what the guitar looked like after assist material removal. The assist materials in the flat area where the pickups and the controls go were milled flat, but the rest of the material was removed by hand:

So began the arduous task of improving the surface finish. Straight off the AM process, the surface finish may most be defined to one much like to a sand-cast part. To my mind, the most way of considering of current metal AM technologies is in precisely the same way one thinks of sand-casting. If, for example, we sand-cast an engine block, all the surfaces that need great surface finishes can need to be machined in a post-processing operation. IE: the cylinders can need to be bored out, the head-gasket area can need to be skimmed, anywhere where bearings or gaskets are going to fit can need to be machined, etc. If one thinks of metal AM in the same way, one can never be disappointed.

The objective of this step was to complete a much smoother finish that was additional effortless to touch and hold. This was, again, a quite slow process that involved a lot of filing and sanding, and finally shot-peening the guitar to a soft satin finish. This step in addition took of 3 to 4 days, mainly for the reason of the harsh geometry of the guitar.

And here are 3 pictures contrasting the surface finish of the guitar straight of the printing device, after post-processing, and the finished surface finish:

Straight off the machine:

After initially round of clean-up:


And after shot-peening with glass beads

Once all the body post-processing was finished, it just takes of a day to CNC machine the wooden inner core, get equitething else assembled, wired up, set the action, etc.

And, voila, a 3D printed aluminium guitar!


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