- Title: SWEDEN-3D PRINTED BAND 3D printed instruments make sweet music in Sweden
- Date: 24th October 2014
- Summary: LUND, SWEDEN (OCTOBER 7, 2014) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) OLAF DIEGEL, PROFESSOR AT LUND UNIVERSITY WHO CREATED THE 3D INSTRUMENTS, SAYING: "After they get over that initial suspicion that it's a gimmick - it looks cool, but it's not going to sound good - and then they play them and realise that they do sound like electric guitars, it swings them over. Now, what we really need is some big names to pick them up and run with them."
- Embargoed: 8th November 2014 12:00
- Location: Sweden
- Country: Sweden
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVADIXGJK39L7D4J4CKGNH7BCYV9
- Story Text: A professor from Lund University in Sweden is pioneering customised 3D printed instruments and says the merging of science and music can produce instruments that are tailor-made for each individual musician's requirements.
Olaf Diegel, Professor in Product Development at Lund University in southern Sweden, has built a variety of musical instruments in his spare time using 3D printing technology. With the aid of computer software he can design highly intricate and unique instruments.
"You use computer-aided design software to design it in a virtual world. And that means it's really easy to customize, to change, to make it unique for each customer. Once it's designed you pretty much upload it to the cloud or to your 3D printer, hit the print button, and in this case; eleven hours later you've got the guitar ready to assemble. You need to paint it, assemble it the old fashioned way, so to speak," Diegel told Reuters TV.
The technology he uses is called Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), which builds the outer bodies of his guitars not from wood like typical electric guitars, but by using thin layers of Polyamide - a nylon powder - which are then fused together to create customised instruments.
Diegel's favourite guitar is the 'Steam Punk', which contains moving gears and pistons - both purely decorative - all printed as a single component, albeit on top of a wooden inner core that preserves the necessary acoustics.
The greatest opportunities within 3D manufacturing, he said, are for things that either need to be personalised, or those that are particularly complex.
"Every instrument I make is unique; it's made specially for the musician. And that's something you can't do with traditional manufacturing where everyone has to be the same. Where this it doesn't matter how complicated it is or how unique it is. And that's why possibly all my shapes are a little bit over the top, but they're complex shapes that you couldn't make any other way."
The professor has now teamed up with a four-piece band from Lund University's Malmo Academy of Music who are all using instruments created by Diegel. The band was unanimous in their praise for their unique, custom-made designs.
Bassist Hugo Lundwall liked the way 3D printed instruments can allow band members to have a similar look: "Perhaps it's hard to make an entire band look uniform, but with 3D printing it's pretty easy to make a uniform sign for the entire band, for all the instruments."
Guitarist Mikel Morueta Holme was particularly enamoured with the 'Steam Punk' style guitar he plays: "The body is designed with moveable parts. So they print it in one piece, and you can switch it (on), it spins around. So, I think it's maybe the coolest guitar I've ever seen."
Diegel currently has eight guitar and three bass models, ranging in price from $3,000 to $3,500 USD. As well as the industrial styling of the 'Steam Punk' guitar, other examples of Diegel's complex designs include a guitar with a spider web-like body, one based on the Stars and Stripes of the U.S. flag, and a bass guitar with the hexagonal honeycomb design of a bee hive.
His 3D printing technique is not just for creating artistic designs on his instruments, he says, but fully customising the shape and weight to fit a musician's needs.
"Because we're in a digital world, we can see where the centre of balance is. And if the musician says 'I want something more neck-heavy like a Gibson SG', we can digitally shift the weight around to give them exactly the balance they want for example. Or if they want to scallop here to fit their arm better. And that's the beauty of 3D printing, you can just change as you go along, hit print and eleven or twelve hours later you've got the next version ready to go."
Diegel said his next aim is to convince notoriously fickle musicians that 3D printed instruments can be a viable alternative to their beloved Fenders and Gibsons. But he says he's slowly winning over the music community.
"After they get over that initial suspicion that it's a gimmick - it looks cool, but it's not going to sound good - and then they play them and realise that they do sound like electric guitars, it swings them over. Now, what we really need is some big names to pick them up and run with them."
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