Despite declaring that he is not a musician, it would be hard not use the word to describe Javier Muñoz after seeing his 3D printed guitar, ‘El Dorado.’
The seed for the project was planted back in 2015 when Muñoz visited the 3D PrintShow in New York with the aid of a grant from his college, the Escuela Tecnológica Instituto Técnico Central (ETITC). While there, he became fascinated with the myriad possibilities presented through 3D printing technology. He was particularly drawn to the 3D printed guitars designed by Olaf Diegel that were on display at the fair. And while it is true that you don’t have to be a musician to appreciate the beauty of Diegel’s creations, you do have to be one to engage in jam sessions, which is exactly what Muñoz did at the stand.
Upon returning to Colombia, Muñoz decided to follow up on these fascinating instruments and see if he couldn’t begin to experiment with some creations of his own. After some initial research, he discovered that Diegel’s guitars were all created using polymers, an option that put experimentation financially out of reach. Muñoz thought he had reached an endpoint and so he sadly filed the project away in his mind and went on to engage in other explorations.
Not too long after he thought the idea had to be given up, he came across a project from Argentina in which basic nylon filament was utilized to create a working guitar…and his project was given a new life. The next question to be addressed was: what should this guitar, the first 3D printed guitar to be created in Colombia, look like?
“The one that I had played in New York had the skyline of the city and was printed in the characteristic colors of the United States, drawn from the flag,” he explained. “Other models that I had seen had atoms or spiderwebs, but I didn’t like those as much as the one that had the American inspired design, it even had the Statue of Liberty! I wanted to print something that would reference our [Colombian] culture, and felt that the first guitar to be 3D printed in Colombia had to be 100% Colombian in design.”
An important component of Colombian culture is the connection to its history, particularly its Pre-Columbian past and Muñoz decided to celebrate that past in his design. He let his geographical and cultural connections expand a bit when choosing the shape of the guitar, replicating the Flying V of Ozzy Osbourne’s guitarist Randy Rhoads.
Muñoz used Autodesk Inventor to create the model for his design and when it came time to print it, took it to 1/4 Tech, the only Makerspace in Bogota that had the machines necessary to produce the piece. Since he didn’t have the money to pay for the print, he convinced the founder of 1/4 Tech, Ana María Muñoz, to accept an exchange of services in return for the print and because she found the project interesting, she agreed. The pieces were printed over a period of two weeks and the final product, which was named El Dorado, was everything Muñoz dreamed it might be.
For both Javier and Ana Maria, the project was about more than the creation of a single guitar. Instead, it was a message to everyone in Colombia:
“Engineers, designers, publicists, doctors, architects, students big and small, risk takers, and dreamers: we can all do it! The technology is just a tool, the talent is always in our minds, in our imaginations.
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