“3D-printed amorphous metals are a promising material for guitar building because of their unique properties. Especially in our conservative guitar market, it is important to be open for further developments, but also for new materials and technologies.”
Some swear on brass, others on nickel-plated or gold-plated aluminium: The opinions of the guitarists differ on the subject of bridges. The bridge's individual sound changes depending on how it transmits the impulse of the strings to the instrument. Nik Huber Guitars has now tried something new in this otherwise rather conservative market and, in cooperation with Heraeus AMLOY, has for the first time installed a 3D-printed bridge made of amorphous metal.
Amorphous metals are formed by the shock freezing of molten metal. The atoms have no opportunity to form a crystalline lattice and solidify in a disordered (amorphous) manner. The material is particularly elastic, but at the same time very strong. "Since amorphous metals are significantly more elastic than crystalline materials, they transmit vibrations very well," explains Jürgen Wachter, Head of Heraeus AMLOY. "Therefore, the material is ideally suited for stringed instruments such as guitars." In addition to their elasticity, amorphous metals are also scratch and corrosion resistant. In contrast to conventional materials, the bridge made of amorphous metal therefore does not wear out and does not need to be replaced. In addition, it is biocompatible and therefore, unlike nickel-plated aluminium bridges, also suitable for allergy sufferers.
Unusual materials for special instruments
Nik Huber has been building guitars for 24 years, accompanying world famous bands on international stages. Together with his team, he is constantly working to improve his products and their sound characteristics. He likes to try out new materials such as special woods or metals. "3D-printed amorphous metals are a promising material for guitar building due to their unique properties," says Nik Huber, founder and owner of Nik Huber Guitars. "Especially in our conservative guitar market it is important to be open for further developments but also new materials and technologies.”
Nik Huber Guitars presented the guitar with 3D-printed bridge and regulators made of amorphous metal at the NAMM Show in Anaheim, USA from January 16th to 19th, 2020.
Heraeus AMLOY 3D-printed the amorphous bridge. In contrast to conventional bridges, it is not solid but, like the regulators, has a bionic structure. 3D printing thus opens up a wide range of new design and customization possibilities.
In addition to the optics, the honeycomb structure also influences the vibration period of the bridge, because it dampens the vibrations less than closed, solid structures. And that changes the sound properties. "One could also imitate the sound of other metals by changing the structures inside the bridge," says Jürgen Wachter. "A bridge made of amorphous metal would then sound like a bridge made of brass, for example. The difference is that due to its elasticity it keeps the sound longer, does not wear out and still looks like new even after years.”
A globally leading technology group, Heraeus is headquartered in Hanau, Germany. Founded in 1851, it is a family-owned portfolio company which traces its roots back to a pharmacy opened by the family in 1660. Today, Heraeus combines businesses in the environmental, energy, electronics, health, mobility and industrial applications sectors.
In the 2018 financial year, Heraeus generated revenues of €20.3 billion. With approximately 15.000 employees (including staff leasing) in 40 countries, the FORTUNE Global 500-listed company holds a leading position in its global markets. Heraeus is one of the top 10 family-owned companies in Germany.
With technical expertise, a commitment to excellence, a focus on innovation and entrepreneurial leadership, we are constantly striving to improve our performance. We create high-quality solutions for our clients and strengthen their long-term competitiveness by combining unique material expertise with leadership in technology.