Welcome to a post about rock, electric guitars and smashing of guitars with a bit of 3D printing! The electric guitar was introduced back in 1952 and has been changing the face of the music industry ever since. Sandvik is a high-tech global engineering firm that set out to make use of 3D printing for creating a 3D printed electric guitar that couldn’t be smashed. Who was the artist that tested it? None other than Yngwie Malmsteen.
The whole project was an exercise to ascertain how Sandvik can make use of the latest technology for crafting something that is not only beautiful and functional but also highly durable. As it turns out, the company was successful in creating a 3D printed electric guitar that is smash proof.
Klas Forsström, President of Sandvik Machining Solutions, said, ‘Advanced materials, precision machining, additive manufacturing, data-driven production—these are the kinds of processes it takes to create something as complicated and beautiful as a guitar for a master musician.’
The process began with the Sandvik team checking out Yngwie Malmsteen for understanding how he destroys an instrument. The team had to craft a critical joint between the body and the neck where the guitar usually cracks. For those of you who are not aware, Malmsteen is known as an epic guitar destroyer!
He was inspired by watching Jimi Hendrix smashing a guitar on TV and has become a music icon. Ever since the age of seven, he breaks his old guitar when he gets a new one. Sandvik engineers proceeded to completely remove the critical joint for creating the 3D printed electric guitar that is smash proof. The team made use of recycled stainless steel for creating the guitar’s neck and fretboard. The interior surface of the neck and fretboard have been hollowed out for the sake of making the guitar as light as possible. It milled down to the thickness of one millimeter at certain spots. This enabled Malmsteen to have much better control over the notes of the guitar.
Henrik Loikkanen says Precision was critical. Our software is built on years of experience, giving tool and the cutting data recommendations.’ Sandvik made use of metal powder and additive manufacturing for 3D printing the guitar’s body. Sandvik 3D printed the body of the electric guitar by employing the use of a process that involves laser melting titanium powder into thin layers on one another – each layer is about 50 microns thick or thinner when compared with a human hair. The process is known as Powder Bed Laser Fusion, and it took Sandvik a total of 56 hours to complete the work.
The guitar was used on stage by Malmsteen, and in the end, he did try to smash the guitar but to no avail. Eventually, he had to admit, ‘This guitar is a beast! Sandvik is obviously on top of their game. They put the work in; they do their hours. I can relate to that. The result is amazing. I gave everything I had, but it was impossible to smash.’