There's a spider in my guitar: Olaf Diegel's beautifully detailed 3D printed guitars
By Paul Ridden
March 11, 2012
Gizmag has featured many guitars over the years that have veered well away from slight design variations on the ubiquitous Les Paul or Strat body shapes. There have been those which are just stunning (Di Donato/Stereo Acoustic/Tesla Prodigy), others have a look that's both familiar and strange (Ministar/Jetson/Sonic Wind), and others still that are quite frankly bizarre (gAtari 2600/iTar). I think it's fair to say, though, that none have ever looked quite as extraordinarily beautiful as Olaf Diegel's 3D-printed Scarab and Spider electric guitars.
A Professor of Mechtronics at Massey University's School of Engineering & Advanced Technology in Auckland, New Zealand, Diegel told Gizmag that his wonderfully elaborate designs are in the final stages of prototyping ahead of anticipated June availability. He explained that the models featured in the gallery "have their core made out of solid nylon, or aluminum-filled nylon, but the latest (and I think final) design iteration has a core made out of wood, which allows us to better control the resonance and tone of the guitar, which will allow us to do more customization, not just on how the guitar looks, but also on how it sounds."
The Polyamide 2200 or Alumide body of both the prototypes has been created in one piece using an EOS Formiga P100 selective laser sintering system. The Spider has a number of fearsome-looking ODD arachnids positioned throughout its web-like lattice, while there are numerous flowers and insects hanging from the vines of the Scarab. The body shape is rather reminiscent of a Steinberger P-Series headless guitar, with the size being determined by limitations imposed by the current printer. Diegel told us that there are other designs waiting patiently in the wings for the move to a bigger machine, including the wonderful Les Paul-shaped Atom guitar with electrons that actually spin around the nucleus within the open body.
"What makes the technology so great is that we can print all the insects, and intricate detail, inside the guitar bodies all in one piece together with the body," said Diegel. "No assembly needed!"
The designer described the tone offered by the 3D-printed plastic (or plastic/aluminum) instruments as not being quite as bright as guitars with bodies fashioned from wood but the production models should take care of that. These will feature a CNC-machined wood core body surrounded by the 3D-printed plastic open body shape. It's described as being essentially a sleeve that completely envelops the wooden core so that the wood isn't visible, although there is always room to include a stripped away effect to let the stained or natural wood show through strategically-positioned gaps.
Each production model will be uniquely designed for the customer, with some customization possible for the remainder of non-3D-printed hardware (such as neck, pickups, and bridge) and also the chance to replace the ODD branding on the back of the body with a name or logo.
A new website will go live closer to the launch date, when the guitars will be made available to international buyers. Prices are likely to be in the US$3,000 to US$5,000 range.