Swedish engineers make smashproof guitar using 3D printing and titanium

  • TECH
  • Friday, 12 Apr 2019

A Sandvik engineers testing the strength of the guitar on various items of old furniture and equipment.

Sandvik Coromant has made guitars more hardcore for metal musicians by making a smashproof guitar using 3D printing to craft an instrument out of titanium.

The Swedish engineering company's machining process developer Henrik Loikkanen was inspired by his childhood idol, Swedish heavy metal guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen, known for destroying guitars in spectacular fashion.

“We had to design a guitar that is unsmashable in all the different ways you can smash a guitar. The engineering challenge was that critical joint between the neck and the body that usually cracks on a guitar,” says Loikkanen, who studied YouTube videos of Malmsteen destroying guitars.

The engineers eliminated the joint between the neck and body and instead milled the guitar’s neck and fretboard from solid bars of recycled stainless steel that extended into a rectangular hub that reaches deep into the guitar’s body.

To avoid distortion, they simulated milling digitally before the first cut was made, enabling the correct choice of tools, saving manufacturing time and ensuring efficient processes.

“Our software is built on years of experience, giving the tool and cutting data recommendations that helped us mill the fretboard down to a challenging thickness of of 1 millimetre in places,” says Loikkanen, on the company blog.

Another issue was how to manufacture the guitar body, an extremely complex design due to the need for high strength at low weight.

The solution was to use 3D printing to fuse layers of material – each thinner than a human hair – one on top of the other.

Additive manufacturing engineer Amelie Norrby says the method allows for lighter, stronger and more flexible components with internal structures that would be impossible to mill traditionally.

Norrby adds that the process is more sustainable because only the material needed for the component are used, thereby minimising waste.

To test that the guitar was able to stand up to abuse, Malmsteen was invited to play then attempt to smash it. Despite the musician swinging the guitar at amps, stage structures and the floor, the guitar survived.

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