Sandvik 3D Prints the World's First Smash-Proof Guitar
Guitars and rock stars tend to have a particularly complicated relationship. Although the instrument’s sound is what gives character to any rock and roll song, it’s also a rock star’s favorite object to smash. Guitar smashing has, in fact, become one of the most iconic moves in any rock concert.
Sandvik, an engineering group based in Sweden, saw these destructive rock’n’roll moments as an opportunity to demonstrate its advanced production techniques. As a result, the firm has produced the “world’s first smash-proof 3D printed guitar”.
How to create an indestructible guitar
The project involved a team of designers and engineers to study the main structural weaknesses of common guitars and identify a way to eliminate them.
“We had to design a guitar that is unsmashable in all the different ways you can smash a guitar,” Loikkanen said. “The engineering challenge was that critical joint between the neck and the body that usually cracks on a guitar.”
The team found out that the first step to take to make the instrument “smash-resistant” was to remove the joint between the neck and the body. To eliminate that, the team milled the neck and fretboard in a single piece, created from recycled stainless steel.
Next, the body. To be a playable guitar, it needed to be the right size and shape, as well as strong and lightweight. An that’s where 3D printing came into play.
Relying on its world-leading expertise in metal powder and additive manufacturing, Sandvik decided to 3D print the body. Lasers traced a design in beds of fine titanium powder, fusing layers of material one on top of the other. The layers, each thinner than a human hair, built up into the body of the guitar.
Last but not least, the materials. The team quickly realized that in order to create a strong, stiff but at the same time light instrument, a special structure was necessary. Tomas Forsman, a research and development specialist at Sandvik proposed an Isotropic Lightweight Structure (ILS), the strongest structure for a given weight ever invented.
“It looks much like any framework structure, but it’s actually stiffer and lighter than anything we’ve seen before.”
There’s no better way to test a supposedly unbreakable guitar than putting it into the hands of a professional guitar player and smasher. The company found the ideal candidate in Yngwie Malmsteen.
For those unfamiliar with the name, Malmsteen is a heavy metal veteran named as one of the greatest electric guitar players in the world by TIME magazine. The Rock star has been smashing guitars onstage for over 30 years.
Malmsteen, thrilled by the idea, decided to test the guitar at the end of one of his live performances.
The result? Check it out yourself.