In early June a 3D printed guitar from Olaf Diegel, a professor at Massey University in Auckland has shaken up the music world. Scott Summit, co-founder of Bespoke Innovations, is also turning his dream he’s had since childhood into reality: to design and create his own guitar.
Scott Summit and his company had developed stylish 3D printed prosthetic limbs for users all over the world. Earlier this year 3D Systems acquired Bespoke Innovations and Scott Summit works since then as director of technology for 3D Systems in San Francisco.
On his vacations he created a 3D model of his ideal guitar and sent the 3D model to 3D Systems. The guitar was printed out using very fine nylon powder on a $800,000 3D printer. But Summit says 3D printing an acoustic guitar seemed like a cool challenge.
“Because it has all this complexity inside and all these mechanical attributes in it that contribute to the acoustics, we just don’t know what’s going to happen when you do that,” he says. “So in this case, the idea was to see, ‘Could we actually do an acoustic guitar, and could it actually make a sound? Not necessarily sound good, but could we make sound at all.'”
The 3D printed model used “about $3,000 worth of plastic and had a headstock 3D printed with sterling silver; the plate on the neck was 3D printed out of stainless steel.” Bloomberg Businessweek reported.
The result is satisfactory – the sound is very good. “It’s rich and full and has a great tonal range,” says Summit, who’s been known to play at friends’ weddings and at dive bars.
Summit wants to continue experimenting with more radical designs for different sound. He told Businessweek that he sees that people will be able to use a software that lets them pick out what sort of treble, bass, or sustain they desire and then print a guitar to match those qualities. “It will arrive in the mail and sound just the way you wanted,” he says.
“When you take the control of the design of something in this case, a guitar and you democratize that, you just give it out to the world and you say, ‘Here you go, here are the tools, have fun, do what you want with it,'” Summit says. That’s what really excites me, is democratizing design.”