Tag Archives: 3D-Printed Instruments

The first ever 3D-printed band takes the stage

With two guitars, a drum set and a piano completely fabricated from a 3D printer, a team of students and professors at Lund University in Sweden have brought rock ‘n roll into a whole new realm by putting on the world’s first 3D-printed concert.


“3D printing allows me to make complex shapes that are impossible to do any other way. I can also tailor instruments very precisely for musicians who want their instruments custom-made,” Professor Olaf Diegel notes. Diegel has been involved with 3D printing for nearly two years and uses the process to demonstrate that there is real world practicality in the medium.

In the medical field, 3D printing is already being used for things ranging from hip replacements to hearing aids. Diegel himself has even worked on a project involving 3D-printed shoe inserts for diabetics.

With some initial trepidation from the music community, Diegel believes his landmark concert will help win them over. “Musicians are very creative, but also very conservative, so their reactions have been interesting. They first approach what is essentially a plastic guitar with suspicion. Then, when they have a play with it, they’re amazed that it sounds and plays like a high quality electric guitar.”

Not to mention, the 3D-printed guitars have some nifty features – particularly the steampunk-inspired one which would fit right in at any Maker Faire festivity.


This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the Maker and music communities coalesce. Recently, a University of Connecticut professor created replica antique instruments using a 3D printer.

Diegel does offer his custom printed guitars for sale online, but the price point is slightly higher than that of an average guitar. Who knows, with the way this technology is taking hold in society, in a year or two you may be able to print your own axe out right at home!

With his first gig in the books, Diegel is seeking to expand his creative process. He is currently looking into 3D printing woodwinds in the near future.

UConn researchers 3D print antique instrument parts

Dr. Robert Howe, a reproductive endocrinologist by trade, is also a doctoral student in music theory and history at the University of Connecticut. One day at his practice, Robert was shown technology that would allow him to view 3D images of body parts. Interested by the idea, Robert then pondered how he could apply this technology to his passion for music and musical instruments.

Robert Howe

Robert passed his ideas along to music professor Richard Bass and one of the University’s top 3D imaging experts, Sina Shahbazmohamadi. Their conclusion was a system that could utilize CT scans to produce 3D images of antique and delicate instruments. With those 3D images in hand, the group then devised a way to 3D print any parts that were missing from the instruments, thus enabling them to be played for the first time in decades. Shahbazmohamadi developed an interface that allows the scan to view different materials, such as metal and wood, all within one object. On July 29th, the group sought a patent for their process.

Sina Shahbazmohamadi,

The process has already yielded beneficial results, as the group has been able to reproduce the mouthpiece from one of Adolphe Sax’s initial 19th century saxophone designs. While only three original Sax mouthpieces currently exist, the UConn team was able to fit a 3D printed plastic mouthpiece to one of their antiques. Howe tells the Associated Press that the model “is pretty darned good, and it’s an $18 piece.” The talented endocrinologist has also used his technology to play a previously unplayable recorder from 1740.


Howe believes his project is just scratching the surface of the benefits of 3D printing technology. “The universal availability of 3D printing, which is happening as we wait, will make all this work very relevant and not just for musical instruments. The ability to measure and replicate items that are difficult to measure and replicate is going to explode,” he notes.