3D printing is all the hype right now. Additive manufacturing or 3D printing is a process of making three-dimensional solid objects from a digital model. 3D printing is achieved using additive processes, where laying down successive layers of material creates an object. It is considered distinct from traditional machining techniques (subtractive processes), which mostly rely on the removal of material, by drilling, cutting etc.
A materials printer using digital technology usually performs 3D printing. Since the start of the 21st century, there has been a large growth in the sales of these machines, and the price has dropped substantially. The technology is used in the fields of jewelry, footwear, industrial design, architecture, engineering and construction (AEC), automotive, aerospace, dental and medical industries, education, geographic information systems, civil engineering, and many others. So it really is no surprise to see that there is a company that is making guitars with this same technology.
The company ODD Guitars was started by Olaf Diegel, a long-standing design engineer, with a passion for 3D printing and other advanced manufacturing technologies. As his real job, Olaf is professor of product development, in the department of design sciences of the faculty of engineering at Lund University, in Sweden.
The 3D Printing technology used in ODD Guitars is called Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) and builds the components by spreading a thin layer of nylon powder, that is then fused in the correct locations for that particular slice of the component. The layer is then dropped down a fraction of a millimeter, and another layer of powder is spread on top of the first, and the process is repeated until the component is built. The typical layer thickness is 0.1mm.
The hardware (pickups, bridges, necks, tuning heads, etc.) used on all ODD guitars is top quality off-the-shelf hardware and the customer when ordering can specify most of them. In fact, one of the things that are great about 3D printing is that it allows vast configurations by the user without adding much to the cost of the components.
After listening to the videos on their site, I am a bit skeptical, but definitely can see that this really has some unique potential. The looks, feel, and sounds are what you would expect a quality guitar should be. Luckily the guitar can be customized to order and can be set to his or her tone. From top to bottom, these are quality guitars.
What about weight? Surely a guitar made up of nylon dust should be very light right? Wrong! These guitars have a wood core (which I suspect add to the sustain and tone), which can also be configured such as Mahogany, Maple, etc. to suit the player. Total weight factors around 7 lbs. That is a decent weighted guitar.
You can specify the color you want, any particular hardware you would like to use, and any other setups you may desire. The customer is not forced to use the “standard” setup that ODD Guitars provides.
The pricing structure is pretty simple:
- Small bodied guitars $3000US
- Single color regular size guitars cost $3500US
- Guitars with intricate air-brushed paint jobs cost $4000US
These prices include quite a bit of configurations, including neck wood material, inner core material, color choices, pickups and hardware (within reason, of course), your name or logo 3D printed into the back of the guitar, etc. The total lead times are around 8 weeks depending on the build.
For the money there are more serviceable guitars available, plus I can buy 2 or 3 high quality instruments for the same price. The wow factor is completely a 10, but I cannot justify the cost. I just can’t wrap my head around it. You are pretty much stuck like chuck if you desire a change on the already custom built instrument and there is no guarantee that this will be better once you start to really play it over time. The concept is awesome without a doubt. But I feel that these are niche products and as such the regular player will probably buy a standard wood guitar to do the job. I live by the expression: “If its not broke, don’t fix it.” That’s my $0.02. Till next time and play on!