Rock stars have been smashing guitars on stage for decades - The Who’s Pete Townshend, Jimi Hendrix and, more recently, Sweden’s Yngwie Malmsteen, named by TIME Magazine as one of the 10 greatest electric guitar players in the world.
Sandvik employed additive manufacturing to laser-melt titanium powder to produce a guitar neck that is just 1 mm thick in places. The intention was to highlight Sandvik’s ability to bring different areas of expertise together to solve customer challenges.
Watch the video to see how the guitar fared in the unusual test.
Says Klas Forsström, president of Sandvik Machining Solutions:“We don’t make products for consumers, so people don’t realise how far in the forefront our methods are. Creating a smash-proof guitar for a demanding musician like Malmsteen highlights the capabilities we bring to all complex manufacturing challenges."
Sandvik engineers teamed with renowned guitar designer Andy Holt of Drewman Guitars 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”, explains Holt.
“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.”
Several different divisions of Sandvik collaborated to make the instrument. For the guitar’s 3D-printed body, Sandvik relied on its world-leading expertise in metal powder and additive manufacturing.
“Additive manufacturing allows us to build highly complex designs in small production runs,” said Amelie Norrby, 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, minimising waste.”
The guitar’s neck and fretboard were machined by Sandvik Coromant on one machine from a solid block of recycled stainless steel.
“Precision was critical,” said Henrik Loikkanen, 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 millimetre in places.”
A further challenge was to strengthen the fret and neck as they extended into the guitar’s body. This employed a new, super-light lattice structure that was 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, it is claimed.
“Collaborating like this, working together to solve even more complex problems, is key for the future,” said Tomas Forsman, 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.”