Notes on a 3D Printed Ukelele

(Stratasys) Matt Welsh designed a 3D model of a full sized 13.875″ (35cm) scale length ukulele in SolidWorks 2013 in about a week of his spare time. Traditionally, ukuleles are designed with aged koa wood, and it normally takes many months to manually shape and form an instrument.

Matt has been tweaking his ukelele since. The material Matt used for his ukulele is ABSplus. The cost for one neck, body and set of tuning pegs was about $170 and it only took about a day and a half to print. Although Matt doesn’t see wooden instruments being completely replaced by plastic versions, he feels that there are definitely certain areas where 3D printed instruments will be preferred:

Travel Instruments – 3D-printed plastic instruments are far more durable than wooden instruments and therefore able to survive the “trauma” of travel and baggage claim.
Experimental Sounds – 3D printing allows designers and musicians to try different and strange things with the instrument that simply could not be done with wood.
Customization – The short production time and low cost of 3D-printed instruments will allow for customized instruments.