3D Printed Electric Guitars

Inspired by the rich surfing history of the Gold Coast, this replica Fender Telecaster has been designed and 3D printed using both SLS and FDM 3D printing. All guitars were built with the help and expertise of Rohan Staples at The Guitar Shop in Paddington, Brisbane.


Combining both innovation and the arts, these guitars show the possibilities of additive manufacturing and how traditional manufacturing techniques can be substituted to open up an almost endless amount of design opportunities. Combined with unique paint-job these are truly bespoke designs which have to be played to really gain a feel of how this process is achieved. Have a listen to guitarist Josh Needs giving the SLS printed guitar a play at the 2016 Blues on Broadbeach festival below!

Extended Description:

"Design an electric guitar body that is to be manufactured specifically using 3D printing. Take into account the design opportunities and limitations which 3D printing provides to exploit the possibilities for design."

For this project I was able to produce two 3D printed electric guitars. One of the guitars is produced using SLS 3D printing manufacturing, and the other is produced using FDM 3D printing technology. The design is derived from the Fender Telecaster body shape, and features several flowing waves running along different sections of the guitar body. The wave design came from influences such as the Gold Coast's rich surfing history and my own passion for the ocean. Waves can be tricky to 3D model using solidworks, so it provided a good opportunity to improve my skills. The component layout is the traditional Telecaster layout. 

The SLS guitar was printed in one piece, making the body quite strong and heavy (2.6kg). The material that was used is called Polyamide, which is high in nylon, meaning the working characteristics of the body were similar to timber, with the main factor to watch being heat. Although as the holes, mounting points and channels were all modelled on the computer beforehand there was no need for drilling or sanding the body. 

The FDM guitar is the same design, however the body was divided up into 7 different shaped pieces so that it could be printed on a FDM printer with a build volume of 250mm3. Thoughts went into the joints and the positioning of the connections as there needed to be strength in the right places due to the tension of the strings. The 7 pieces were glued together and the guitar body was complete!

Both guitars sounded great, and most guitarists are surprised at the excellent quality of sound due to the scepticism surrounding the body material. A short video of the guitars being played by Josh Needs at the 2016 Blues on Broadbeach festival can be found here, or above.