Apr 12, 2019

Sandvik Challenges Rocker to Break Its Smash-proof 3D Printed Guitar

Rock stars have been smashing guitars for decades and few with more enthusiasm than Swedish-born guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen. Sandvik, a global engineering company, decided to test their cutting-edge techniques by building the world’s first all-metal, unsmashable guitar and letting Malmsteen unleash his demolition skills on it.

Can a rockstar known for the fury he unleashes on his guitars smash a guitar 3D printed to withstand even the most motivated destroyer?

That’s the question Sandvik, a world-leader in material innovation and manufacturing, asked. To answer, the company engineered a beautiful smash-proof guitar made of metal to demonstrate how advanced, precise and sustainable its techniques are.

“We don’t make products for consumers, so people don’t realize how far in the forefront our methods are,” says Klas Forsström, President of Sandvik Machining Solutions. “Creating a smash-proof guitar for a demanding musician like Malmsteen highlights the capabilities we bring to all complex manufacturing challenges.”

Malmsteen, a master of neo-classical heavy metal who has produced 30 albums and has been smashing guitars onstage for over 30 years, was the perfect person to test the guitar.

The result, as you can see from the video below, where Malmsteen plays the guitar in front of an excited crowd at a rock club outside Miami, is that they succeeded.

“This guitar is a beast! Sandvik is obviously on top of their game. They put the work in, they do their hours, I can relate to that,” said Malmsteen, who was named one of the ten greatest electric guitar players in the world by TIME Magazine and is known for his virtuoso performances. “The result is amazing. I gave everything I had, but it was impossible to smash.”

The excited crowd at a rock club outside Miami where Malmsteen tried to smash Sandvik’s guitar. (Source: Sandvik)

To create their masterpiece, Sandvik engineers teamed with renowned guitar designer Andy Holt, of Drewman Guitars. They tried to match Malmsteen’s exacting musical standards and his lightning-fast playing style.

“We’ve had to innovate from the top down. There’s not a single part of this guitar that has been made before. It’s a piece of art, really,” Holt said.

The weak point in any guitar is where the neck joins the body. Sandvik solved the problem by milling the neck and the main hub of the body as one piece. “You could use the guitar as a hammer and it wouldn’t break,” Holt said.

Several divisions at Sandvik collaborated to make the instrument. For the guitar’s 3D printed body, the company relied on its world-leading expertise in metal powder and additive manufacturing. They used lasers to trace a design in beds of fine titanium powder, fusing layers of material one on top of the other. By adding layer after layer of the metal — each thinner than a human hair — they built up the body of the guitar.

Several divisions at Sandvik collaborated to make the instrument. (Source: Sandvik)

“Additive manufacturing allows us to build highly complex designs in small production runs,” said Amelie Norrby, an additive manufacturing engineer at Sandvik. “It lets us create lighter, stronger and more flexible components with internal structures that would be impossible to mill traditionally. And it is more sustainable because you only use the material you need for the component, minimizing waste.”

The guitar’s neck and fretboard were machined by Sandvik Coromant from a solid block of recycled stainless steel.

“Precision was critical,” said Henrik Loikkanen, a machining process developer at Sandvik Coromant. “Our software is built on years of experience, giving tool and the cutting data recommendations that helped us mill the fretboard down to a challenging thickness of one millimeter in places.”

To strengthen the fret and neck as they extended into the guitar’s body, Sandvik took a new form of a new super-light lattice structure made from hyper-duplex steel, a recent Sandvik innovation. (Source: Sandvik)

The next challenge was to strengthen the fret and neck as they extended into the guitar’s body. That solution took the form of a new super-light lattice structure sandwiched between the guitar’s neck and fretboard. Made from hyper-duplex steel, a recent Sandvik innovation, the lattice structure is the strongest in the world for a given weight.

“Collaborating like this, working together to solve even more complex problems is key for the future,” said Tomas Forsman, a product development specialist at Sandvik. “Our customers’ challenges continue to grow more and more complex. We need to bring our expertise to work hand-in-hand with our partners and customers to invent new ways of meeting those challenges.”

To see exactly how Sandvik created the world’s first smash-proof guitar, check out the video below or visit this page for more information.

License: The text of "Sandvik Challenges Rocker to Break Its Smash-proof 3D Printed Guitar" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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