3D printed guitar picks are surprisingly rare, considering how widespread 3D printing has become lately. This technology allows makers to make detailed designs with an extremely high level of accuracy while keeping the cost low.
It also allows them to experiment with different designs and materials to examine how they affect the tone of a pick accurately.
Do 3D Printed Guitar Picks Work?
3D printed guitar picks work just as well, if not better, than any other guitar pick you can buy. The technology and materials perfectly fit to be used as guitar picks, but in the end, it all comes down to the design, attention to detail, and expertise of the maker.
Types of 3D Printed Guitar Picks
Very often, pick makers choose 3D printing because it allows them to experiment with different designs quickly. A good example of that is Bog Street’s experimental picks collection.
Another use case is designing a pick that would be very expensive to produce in other ways, such as the Celestial Springy Guitar Pick made by Dimensional Entropy (discontinued). It was designed to provide flexibility using the shape of the pick rather than counting on the material’s flexibility.
Materials Used for 3D Printing Guitar Picks
Pick makers use all sorts of materials to make 3D printed picks. The main two categories of materials are Plastic and Resin.
Plastics seem to be the go-to option for making guitar picks for the last 100 years, and 3D printing didn’t change that. Yet, some types of Resin also have some great advantages that needs to be considered.
PLA – Polylactic Acid
PLA is very easy to print because of its low melting temperature. It is biodegradable and made of renewable resources, sugarcane, and corn starch. It’s very easy to shape, too, but its main downside is its low durability.
ABS – Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene
ABS is harder to print than PLA because of its higher melting point. Its advantage over PLA is its much higher durability.
PET – Polyethylene Terephthalate
PET is strong yet, lightweight. It’s preferred by players favoring a light-weight pick over a heavy one while not needing to compromise on strength.
PETG – Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol
PETG, in a way, is an evolution of PET. Adding Glycol to the mix doesn’t radically change to properties of the material but it makes it less brittle.
PC – Polycarbonate
PC is harder to work with compared to other materials in this list, but the impact resistance it brings to the table often compensates for that.
When you think of Nylon guitar picks, you usually think of mold injection, such as Jazz III, Rombo, or Attack Pik, rather than 3D printing. That’s because it is pretty hard to work with in the context of 3D printing.
3D Printed Guitar Picks
There are some really cool examples of 3D printed guitar picks, made by makers that made it their specialty and by makers that utilize 3D printing as part of their “toolkit” of techniques.
Bog Street picks are not making any of their regular collection, but to the Lab range, their experimental line. They use a material called Tough 2000 to experiment with new designs that can later be made of different materials and become a part of their regular collection.
They are using 3D printing to lower the cost of producing new designs and let their customers give them feedback about new ideas they have.
Read more about Bog Street’s 3D printed picks in my review about them.
Dimensional Entropy used PLA to 3D print guitar picks that are flexible thanks to their design rather than the material they use.
The design was meant to help guitar players with movement disabilities hold a guitar pick and allow it to flex without putting any additional pressure on the fingers or requiring them to move at all.
Dasotomic is using 3D printing in two of their models: PiXY and Ripper.
PiXY is a pick combining hand-shaped Acrylic for the tip, and a 3D printed grip, and Ripper is a speed beveled triangular pick made of a material made by Siraya Tech called Blu.
Read more about Dasotomic Picks’ PiXY and Ripper in the review I made about them.
Eggy’s uses ABS like Resin to create Jazz III shaped guitar picks. In the process, he’s using different types of paint and sprays to give them a truly unique feel.
More often than not, you can feel the low resolution of 3D printed picks (and any other 3D printed products). Here, though, not only you can’t feel it, you can barely see it, too.
Legacy Plectrums also uses ABS like Resin as their main material, which they 3D print to some extreme gauge picks. Their thinnest pick is Dagger, a 3.5mm thick pick. It may sound extreme, but it’s pretty standard in the world of boutique picks. The gauge of the rest of his models is higher, even among those specializing in thick guitar picks.
Honeycomb is 9mm thick, then Goliath at 12.8mm, next is Leviathan at 16.5mm, and the last is Colossus, appropriately named at a gauge of 20.3mm.
3D printing is not Oks Picks’ main technique, but being one of the most creative pick makers, I honestly don’t think there will ever be a technique he won’t try.
They make their Hedgehog model (shown below) using PLA. In other 3D printed picks, they use PETG and Wood Fiber-PLA Blends.
I’ll keep adding 3D pick makers to this article as time goes by. 3D printing is an exciting evolution in the guitar picks world, and especially in the realm of boutique guitar picks. I can’t wait to see what the future hold for us.
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