3D printing technology is bringing a wealth of firsts to the music world.
Then of course there’s been the world’s first 3D printed records, which leads to next month’s launch of the world’s first 3D printed records store, with none other than Bloc Party frontman Kele Okereke taking the honours of being the first ‘official’ artist – alongside collaborator Bobbie Gordon – to issue a single in the brave new technological format.
Now comes another first-ever, a band that plays exclusively with 3D printed instruments.
We’ve already seen the first fully-functioning 3D printed guitars, but now an enterprising designer from New Zealand has created a full band’s worth of additional gear, including an electric bass, drum kit, and keyboard.
Olaf Diegel, a design engineer and professor of mechatronics at Massey University in Auckland, has been creating intricate musical instrument designs under his ODD Guitars banner for nearly two years, as CNet Australia reports.
Diegel’s eye-catching guitar designs have come a long way in the last two years, with his ODD Guitars website offering a range of personalised electric guitar and bass models from about US$3,000 a pop. Including the Steampunk Telecaster – which includes moving gears and pistons inside the body of the guitar (watch it in action below) – and the honeycombed 5-string Hive B bass, using mahogany and maple wood cores around the 3D printed bodies.
(Image: Hive B Bass. Source: Odd Guitars)
After advances in using SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) 3D printing technology, Diegel now has two new ODD additions, the Ladybug keyboard and Atom Drumkit, and Diegel’s full band’s worth of instruments are to be played live together in a public concert at the German EuroMold design fair in Frankfurt in less than a week. (No word on the setlist, but we’d love to hear Something For Kate’s ‘Three Dimensions’.)
The Kiwi designer, who showed off his ODD Guitars range at last year’s EuroMold, will again have his various designs on display at the event, while the 3D-printed Band (working title), will offer live sets showing off the instruments, including the latest ODD additions: the Ladybug keyboard and Atom Drumkit.
The Ladybug is a digital piano wrapped in an ornate, nature-inspired shell with etched insect and flower designs, as Gizmag details, while Diegel says of the five-piece Atom drum set; “I was expecting the 3D print, and all the holes, to dramatically affect its acoustic properties, but there’s little noticeable difference between it and the original kit.”
(Image: Ladybug Keyboard. Source: Odd Guitars)
(Image: Atomic Drums. Source: Odd Guitars)
The futuristic industrial revolution that 3D printing represents may not quite have dawned just yet – the costs, availability, and functionality of industrial-sized laser-cutting machines ensures society is still a ways off from bringing 3D printing into the average household – but the implications are certainly impressive, especially given the leaps that have already been made.
Such as the process developed by Amanda Ghassaei, the keen technologist and Instructables member who came up with the programme for converting digital audio files into 3D printed records earlier this year. A similar process that’s being used for the world’s first 3D printed records store, the pop-up Vinyl Factory in London’s Soho that’s launching next month to offer limited edition copies of a new single from Kele Okereke.
The leap in technology could however, inadvertently lead to another mass form of music piracy, with many 3D printed designs, or ‘physibles’, widely available on popular P2P and torrenting networks, demonstrating a new wave that echoes that of Napster and the mp3 boom, except this time it would be through the sharing of real-world physical objects, such as the guitars and records, as report from TechCrunch demonstrates.
Until then, it’s best to just soak up the ‘cool factor’ of 3D printed instruments, such as guitarist Nadav Tabak showing off the sounds and range of ODD Guitars’ eye-popping designs below.