A Swedish-based pioneer of 3D printed musical guitars says that creating a new aluminium version - dubbed 'Heavy Metal' - has proved his greatest challenge yet. Jim Drury reports.
It's music with a difference….played by the world's first 3D-printed aluminium guitar. UPSOT: MUSIC University of Lund professor Olaf Diegel has already made 70 3D-printed guitars using polyamide powder. Using aluminium was a new challenge. SOUNDBITE (English) PROFESSOR OLAF DIEGEL, LUND UNIVERSITY, SAYING: "You put a layer of metal powder down and a laser draws on the powder. Wherever the laser hits it hard it melts the powder but any bits that are overhanging you need support material. So in this case if you look at the guitar we've got all of these overhanging wires, so all of that was filled with what's called support material. It's to anchor the part to the build platform, so the entire guitar was welded to a steel plate, and then you've got to break all of that off." Designed on SolidWorks computer-aided software, it was printed by Dutch firm Xilloc. UPSOT: MUSIC One British musician, though, isn't convinced by its merits. SOUNDBITE (English) PROFESSIONAL MUSICIAN, TIM BRICHENO, SAYING: "The common misconception about electric guitars is that the wood is not important at all, it's just down to the pick-ups that pick up the vibration of the strings - these are magnets - and these are all that's involved. The fact is that anything that actually makes the guitar resonate will affect the way it sounds." UPSOT: MUSIC SOUNDBITE (English) PROFESSOR OLAF DIEGEL, LUND UNIVERSITY, SAYING: "Anything that affects the vibrations will affect the sound to a very small extent, but because they are electric guitars they sound as good as any other electric guitar. Acoustic guitars would be a different story." Diegel once formed a band that used only 3D-printed instruments. He thinks 3D printing will prove music to the ears of those wanting cut price custom-made instruments.