Design of the Week: 3D Printed Guitar That Lights Up

By on December 7th, 2020 in Design

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Design of the Week: 3D Printed Guitar That Lights Up
A 3D printed guitar that lights up [Source: Joshua Henderson]

This week’s selection is a 3D Printed Guitar That Lights Up by Joshua Henderson.

This project is exactly as described: Henderson built a custom electric guitar that display different lighting patterns according to the play of the moment.

Henderson, an embedded software engineer by trade, designed the guitar from scratch. He used Autodesk Fusion 360 to create the several 3D printed parts, and apparently learned the CAD tool along the way with the help of Google. He’s not the only one, as that’s a very popular approach for learning the complex design tool.

The guitar body was the 3D printed part, as the neck is of a simple design and did not warrant the trouble of 3D printing. However, Henderson’s body design included a number of hexagonal openings that would help capture and display colorful patterns emitted from the central light engine.

3D printing a 3D printed guitar part in ABS [Source: Joshua Henderson]

Henderson’s video shows the process of 3D printing the parts, which were made from ABS. Printing such large parts in ABS would certainly be a challenge, and it seems that Henderson had access to a relatively sophisticated professional 3D printer in order to do so, as these parts would surely warp on lesser 3D printers. Evidently some 60 hours of 3D printing was involved.

His video shows the process of assembly, which involves a bit more than the usual mechanical joints. This is due to the electronics required to not only manage the guitar actions, but also to control and generate light patterns.

Control board for the 3D printed guitar [Source: Joshua Henderson]

Henderson designed a custom circuit board to handle this process, but apparently it took a few tries to get it right. He says the final version is:

“Much more correctly correct, and it works!”

This electronics package offers the ability to control the lighting sequence in different ways as you will see in the video. You can, for example, select a color palette and have the guitar light up proportionately to the aggressiveness of current play. There’s even a “fire” pattern that mixes reds and yellows, and that is suitable for certain musical pieces, no doubt.

Light control panel on the 3D printed guitar [Source: Joshua Henderson]

Here’s the video:

The result is pretty amazing, and demonstrates clearly what one can do when combining 3D printing, electronics and music.

As far as I can tell, this is a one-off project as there doesn’t seem to be a way to either buy a version or acquire the CAD files for this project.

But it’s certainly fun to watch the project come to fruition.

Via Joshua Henderson

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!

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