This intricate, lightweight “Greenaxe” electric guitar by Olaf Diegel shows off a new 3D printing technique that turns waste products like sawdust into high-strength, production-grade wood parts that cost virtually nothing in materials.
The technique was developed by a company called Forust, which was acquired earlier this year by Desktop Metal. It takes waste sawdust and lignin, which would otherwise be burned or sent to landfill, and uses it as a powder feedstock in a binder jetting process. A range of different densities can achieve different strength and weight characteristics, and it can be finished with a mimicked woodgrain or without.
Diegel, a Professor of Additive Manufacturing at the University of Auckland, has quite a history with 3D-printed guitars through his ODD Guitars business. Indeed, he was responsible for the clockwork steampunk axe in the video below.
Steampunk 3D printed guitar
The Greenaxe is his first wood-printed guitar though, we believe, commissioned by Desktop Metal to show the capabilities of its new acquisition. And while the design still very much screams “look how 3D printed I am,” it does raise some interesting thoughts.
Some folk say that the reason why wood instruments seem to sound better as they age is that by constantly subjecting the wood to harmonic vibrations, its molecules are encouraged to align toward the parts that vibrate the least, leaving slightly less material at the points that vibrate the most, much like those sand on a speaker tests. In this hypothesis, the lightening of the fastest-vibrating parts of the instrument body would potentially help them become more resonant and responsive.
If this is the case, 3D wood printing might provide an excellent opportunity to design a guitar or violin body specifically to highlight and enhance the key frequencies, using acoustic modeling or even by measuring test vibrations and tracking where they tend to resonate through a solid wood body.
Now that’d be interesting!