Professor Starts 3D Printed Custom Guitar Business

Last month we profiled Derek Manson’s 3D Printed Guitar, Here we are again this month with another 3D-printed guitar project.

This month it’s Massey University mechatronics professor Olaf Diegel in the limelight, who has created a series of colourful 3D-printed electric guitars with latticed bodies adorned with spiders and butterflies.

Prior to launching his online business selling the custom guitars, he posted up some images of his prototypes, and generated huge interest by musicians and designers around the world. Now, he’s created a video so you can hear what his actual creations sound like. He’s enlisted freelance rock guitarist Neil Watson, of the New Zealand School of Music, to play.

Of course he just prints the bodies, which are then fitted with inner wooden cores, wooden necks, tuning keys and electronics. But the way things are moving with 3D printing, it may not be long until he can print the entire assembly.

What does Diegel think about the future of 3D printing? Alot. Here he is in his interview with

“The whole purpose is customisation and trying to avoid waste, It’s the next big thing in manufacturing, because you can create to order and modify the design to suit specific individual requirements, whether it’s for a new set of teeth, a door handle or a piece of jewelry.

“New Zealand, a country largely made up of small companies making high-value products, can benefit enormously from these technologies, as they will be able to go to market with products without the current prohibitive tooling costs that often prevent them from getting their ideas off the ground.”

The next big thing. Yup, you got that right.

So, how do these guitars sound? I’m no expert and can’t say much about it — sounds good to me. But the commenters on the article at aren’t quite fans yet.

Commenter sirchick said:

The tone sounded so generic that it lost all colour to its sound in my opinion.. as a guitarist.. the body material is KEY (pardon the pun) to having a good tone… a plastic almost non exist body is really going to ruin and waste alot of its sound.

And Tachyon8491 added:

I play a ten-string, hand-built Ramirez classical guitar professionally – when examining its complex inner structure with asymmetrical, internal radial battens to optimise linear tone and timbre response in the body of the instrument, the quality of the woods used, the quality of tonal response, then the idea of 3-D printing an effort to equate that appears completely nonsensical.

But, remember, these are the early days of 3D printing. Very early. You can expect in just a few years to look back what we are printing now and be amazed at how far 3D printing has come. In the end, technology wins, and 3D printed guitars will be as good or better than hand-crafted one (let the flame wars begin).

He’s named his guitar line Spider Guitar series. If you are interested in your own guitar, go to the site, ODD Designs, and contact him. ODD “designs weird stuff, usually manufactured through 3D printing.”

What do you think?


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