by Tony Riggs
Why 3D print an electric guitar? I already have a twenty foot long, 3D printed dinosaur and a couple of 3D printed skateboards. Okay, I think that’s enough reasons.
The guitar had been on the list for a while. So some co-workers and I ended up going down to the local music store to buy a donor Epiphone Les Paul and went to work.
We downloaded a few plans from the Internet to verify sizes and started modeling the body in 3D CAD.
We were actually getting close to the correct final shape in CAD, but we also decided to use a scanner for the body and neck of the guitar.
Using 3D scanning, 3D CAD, and 3D printing, we ended up with models of the two main pieces of the guitar. With the use of the software for the scanner, we were able to develop 2D sketches and even 3D surfaces for the body and neck of the guitar.
With the CAD models, we were able to create features for the guitar that wouldn’t work for the real version. Electrical passages for the wiring could be created differently than the wooden body because of the different manufacturing approach. The scan picked up the frets in the guitar neck, but I replaced them with slots for the replacement frets that we pressed in later.
We created pockets for hardware to attach the neck to the body. In the original, there are just four long screws that do the work. Now we have durable metal threads in the neck.
The 3D printed guitar isn’t a new idea. A quick Internet search will give you multiple results on the topic. There are some amazing examples out there. There are a lot of 3D printed bodies, but not as many where the neck was printed as well. We even 3D printed some of the knobs and cover plates.
The next version that we print will definitely have an added replacement truss rod running down the neck. We wanted our first attempt at a guitar to be fairly normal and not too crazy. We will save that for the next one!
One of my co-workers, Zack, was the first person to play the guitar after we got it wired and strung. But there was a long line of people who wanted to try it.
We ended up getting all of the people that worked on the project to sign the guitar case and presented it to the company CEO of our company, Brad Hansen. We will see who gets the next one.
We are already planning out our next project!