We've heard for some time how 3D printing (opens in new tab) is going to make it into the mainstream. From high ambition to the high street, the latest generation of affordable printers will open new doors and opportunities.
Michael Williams (opens in new tab) has embraced the technology and used it to achieve his ambition of owning a bespoke electric guitar. Over 15 years ago Williams designed his own guitar but unless he made it as a rock star, so a guitar maker would create it, he had no way of seeing his dream instrument made whole.
"Fifteen years later the rock star dream has been and gone, but the dream of owning my personally designed guitar became reality," says the artist and musician.
Before starting the model, Michael contacted the printer Shapeways (opens in new tab) to find out about their requirements for the sculpt, and began prepping. The original design was created in AutoCAD, so, for printing, Williams recreated it using 3ds Max.
"For this design the body needed a certain thickness and strength. My first 3D print was a phone holder made of the same material, so I had an idea what I had to deal with when modelling the shell of the body," Williams explains. "If it was too thick it would have cost a lot, if it was too thin the body would be too weak and would easily break.”
Out of print
Williams' advice is to first create some small samples and print them out before you begin a big project. It's best to print out some small strips (4x1cm) at various heights so you know what you're dealing with.
"At this moment I’m waiting for my Ultimaker 2 to arrive, hopefully in the middle of February," he says. "Meanwhile I’m preparing some new [guitar] designs that can be printed out in parts and put together... well that’s the plan."
This article originally appeared in 3D World (opens in new tab) issue 180.