The New Zealand born Swedish design professor Olaf Diegel has created an unusual marriage between rock guitars and 3D-printing.
It is now possible for both professionals and aspiring amateurs among rock guitarists to buy a totally unique 3D printed electric guitar. The look of these guitars has not even been imaginable so far, and they could not have been produced using the traditional methods for manufacturing of musical instruments. Behind the meeting between rock music and high technology embodied in the guitars is Olaf Diegel who is a professor of product development at Lund University in the southern part of Sweden.
“Guitars are just a hobby. My real work is product development of for example, medical and security products. I am using technologies such as 3D printing and additive manufacturing for the production of prototypes, and in some cases also finished products. I have no natural prerequisites for designing, so I’ll pick the primary inspiration for my guitar designs in nature,” he explains.
He also mentions classic rock guitars Fender Telecaster and Stratocaster and Gibson Les Paul as sources of inspiration.
The reason for Olaf Diegel’s guitar hobby is a lifelong romance with rock music. For many years he has been playing rock guitar in various bands especially in the genres of Rock’n Roll and Rockabilly.
But hobby or not – In only four years, Olaf Diegel already sold more than 50 copies of his unique design guitars to rock musicians worldwide. Its customers include the guitarist of the American rock group Steve Miller Band. And privately he owns 10 copies of the 3D printed guitars.
Body print in 3D
The guitars are marketed under the brand name Odd Guitars. They all feature very imaginative design ideas and 3D printing makes it possible for Olaf Diegel to create designs that are adapted to the ideas and demands of the individual rock guitarist. The design is made using SolidWorks 3D CAD and in most cases the guitars are printed by the French but also by the English and Dutch subsidiaries of the world’s leading supplier of 3D Printers, 3D Systems. Until now, all guitars are produced in nylon, but the next step will be a guitar printed in aluminum cast in a 3D printed mold.
Olaf Diegel have chosen only to print the guitar body with 3D printing. The necks are still, as tradition prescribes, made of wood and a block of wood connects the neck with the pickups to transport the vibrations from the neck. He explains: “3D printing particularly offers an advantage for the body shapes because it is possible to design and produce extremely advanced shapes that could not be made with CNC machining or any other production method.”
In addition to 3D printing Odd guitars are produced using the most traditional production processes as CNC machining of metal and wood, injection molding of plastic parts and casting of other parts. The only standard parts are the pickups and the tuning mechanisms.
Freedom with 3D CAD and print
For Olaf Diegel 3D CAD and 3D printing are the tools giving him the freedom to experiment with totally unique designs: “I have complete freedom to design the guitars that I and my customers want without any form of restrictions,” he says adding:
“At the same time SolidWorks automatically gives me the guitars’ center of gravity, so the guitarists to play on them and carry them, get exactly the balance they want. That is a big advantage.”
It takes about 11 hours to print a new guitar body. When it is ready from the printer, the body is painted and assembled with the other components of the instrument. Olaf Diegel does the paint and assembly work of painting and assembly of the guitars perform in his spare time.
You can read more about Odd Guitars here: www.odd.org.nz/
There will be an opportunity to meet Olaf in person when PLM Group is holding a 3D printing event in Roskilde. Presentations will be held in English or Swedish. Visit our website and register here.