Note: I have made this Instructable for the "In Motion Contest." This project is both 3D printed and it enables motion by the strings vibrating. It's been a very fun and challenging project.
I started this project when I saw something similar on Thingiverse called the Black Widow - a 3D printed guitar. I knew I wanted to do something with a different design that no one else had but, I wasn't yet sure what I was going to do. I came to the conclusion that I was going to do a Les Paul style guitar and I started searching on the internet for a basic Les Paul design. I had found a guitar created by Verislav Mudrak, and it looked similar to what I was looking for. I had utilized Mudrak's Les Paul layout, and re engineered it with my own design. I had used the Sunhockey Prusa i3 3D printer. The printer had a limited print volume so I separated it into different pieces and glued them together. I am 13 years old and this was one of my first instructables project. The whole project cost me approximately $150 for everything, including two rolls of 2.2 lb PLA plastic and guitar parts. I have listed below the materials that I had used.
- Basic Guitar parts, Neck, Pickups, Bridge, etc.
- 2 rolls of PLA plastic
- 3D printed parts
- Paint, Primer, Clear coat
- Dremmel (optional)
- Wooden core (about 12 in. long, 4.5 in. wide, and roughly 2 in. thick)
- Loctite Epoxy
Step 1: Part Links
Step 2: Design
I have taken this design and downloaded the .step file. Open Autodesk 123D design and load the Guitar file. Delete the input jack piece. Rotate the 3D file so it is level, this will help you later. Double click on the model and click send to Meshmixer, make sure to download it first. In Meshmixer follow these instructions.
- Insert 3D file
- Click on the SELECT tab.
- Right click and drag your mouse over the 3D file.
- Click Modify and then Select All, your whole file should be orange.
- Press the letter W on your keyboard, different angles and shapes should appear on the model.
- Click on Edit and click Reduce.
- Click Accept and keep clicking Reduce until the shapes appear large.
These steps make it easier and faster for your computer to generate a complex design on the guitar model. Next you will want to click Edit and then click Make Pattern. I would suggest that you experiment with the different patterns and see which one you like, make sure you are happy with it.
Step 3: Separating Pieces
If you have a small desktop 3D printer like me than this guitar will obviously not fit in one piece. If you do have a 3D printer big enough, skip this step and go to the next one. Here are the steps you need to take.
- Go to Edit then click Plane Cut.
- Move the arrows around the model until you have 2 half's that you know will fit on your printer.
- Go to Cut Type and make sure you are on Slice (Keep Both)
- Go back to Edit and click Separate Shells. You should have at least two pieces. If there are more delete the one that is not part of the main model.
- Keep doing this until all of your pieces are small enough to fit on your print bed. I would recommend that you have pieces going straight down from the neck to the bottom middle of the guitar so that it will make it easier for yourself later. Make sure that all of your parts and pieces will be able to fit in the area where your wood will be so that it will all be stable. I separated mine into four pieces from top to bottom. I have called the top three pieces the core, that is where the wood will later go into.
Step 4: Cutting Away the Model
In this step you will have to cut down the model so that your guitar neck and your wooden core can fit in later. If you want you can leave this step out and attach the neck and pickups directly to the plastic. You will just have to make sure that it is sturdy enough.
Step 5: Print
I would recommend printing this in ABS plastic so that it can hold up to higher temps. I was unable to print successfully in ABS so I printed in PLA instead.
Step 6: Start Gluing
You will now have to start gluing some of your parts together. For this I am using a Loctite Epoxy that I got from the Home Depot. Make sure to get quite a bit of this stuff because you end up using a lot in the end. For now glue only the parts that you can that will still allow you to work on the middle/center section. Assemble all the pieces first and make sure you know how you want to orientate them. The parts right off the printer will not be perfect so you will find gaps that you will have to fill in.
Step 7: Making the Wooden Core
You will now be making the wooden core of this guitar. I have been told the Core will keep some of the tone into the guitar and make it a bit more solid. I have used a piece of oak lying around my garage and cut it to what I needed. This step is somewhat unique as I had to fabricate the fit of the wood into the plastic by shaving some areas to ensure it slides into the guitar snugly.
Step 8: Fitting Parts and Finishing Glueing
Now that you have some of your 3D printed parts glued and ready, it is now time to make sure all the parts you have fit into their designated spots. I had to countersink all of my volume and tone potentiometer (pots) knobs for them to fit. Try to get extra long shafts on the volume and tone pots so you won't have to countersink them as much. Make sure you have a place for all of your wires to run and that nothing is under tension. Once everything fits well remove the parts and roughly paint the visable parts on the inside of the guitar. After that is done finish gluing the body parts together.
Step 9: Sanding and Paint
Sand the guitar until it gets smooth, each time increasing the grit count of the sandpaper. Once it is done being sanded you are ready to primer. Painting the guitar is just like you would paint anything else. I am using spray paint and primer I got from the hardware store. Make sure to add a couple coats of Primer, a couple coats of color, and a couple coats of clear coat to protect it. Note: You may need to sand in between the primer coats.
Step 10: Assembly
Take your guitar body, neck, pickups, bridge, etc, and assemble it any order that makes the most sense to you. For the neck I am gluing it in instead of bolting it... either way will work and is a choice you will make.
Step 11: Your Done!
You now should have a completely custom guitar that sounds great and looks even better. I hope you have enjoyed this Instructables and the process in building this guitar. I certainly have found this both challenging and fun at the same time. Thank you.