Paul McCartney, Keith Richards, and Jimi Hendrix motivated 12-year-old Aristides Poort to learn how to play guitar. But rather than pursue the life of a rock star, he grew up and went on to study civil engineering at the Technical University of Delft, in the Netherlands.
"It was a very inspiring environment where we worked on futuristic projects to improve society," says Poort. But that doesn't mean he forgot his early musical heroes. Rather, after graduation he used his engineering skills to envision and build the ideal guitar.
Poort's dream guitar would have perfect tone and longer sustain. It would be electric, but it would resonate like a fine violin.
You might think those qualities have to be forced with electronic circuitry. But Poort says a truly great instrument gives off a warm and sweet-sounding hum unplugged, with very little buzzing through the body when you strike the strings.
Poort turned to the Technical University, his alma mater, to work on his visionary instrument. "We looked at the cell structure of top-quality wood that all fine guitars and other stringed instruments are made from," he says. "The wood influences the sound, defines how the guitar resonates, and determines how the sustain works. But wood resonates in just two dimensions, due to its rigid fiber structure. There is nothing you can change about that."
So Poort's team rethought the material. In the end, they created a new fiberless material they called Arium.
"Arium has no constraining fibers and so it can resonate anywhere it wants to," says Poort. The result is a material with sonic characteristics like those typically found in an 18th century Stradivarius.
Even with Arium, Poort felt much more innovation was needed. He enlisted Nout van Heumen to turn his idea into a real product, with PTC Creo.
"The goal was to create a guitar with very clean lines and a minimum of mechanical clunky-ness," says Poort. "We needed to carefully balance aesthetics, comfort, and acoustics."
Ergonomically, the team optimized the design for maximum playing enjoyment, from the smooth neck transition around the upper fret board to the matte surface of the body and neck, which keeps sweating hands from losing their grip.
"I created all the main parts of the guitar, even strings and tuners, in PTC Creo," says van Heumen. "By using the parametric modeling approach, I easily created a model with which I could change the scale and neck angle of the guitar and the whole design would correctly update."
Even the guitar's neck profile is created as a parametric surface, which can change together with the scale and width of the neck. "This helps us reduce the number of prototypes, increase the concept designs we can explore, and even speed up designs of future models," says van Heumen.
The most striking part of the guitar is the heel. Most guitar necks are bolted to the body. But the Aristides combines the two in one piece. "The transition is very smooth," says van Heumen. "In fact, it's not even visible."
PTC Creo surfacing and curvature ensure the transition of the surfaces is continuous, supporting C2 curvature continuity where the curvature is continuous, but allowing the sharp change in slope needed between body and neck.
"With the fully detailed and parametric model of the guitar, we quickly created a physical prototype, and then tested it with a few guitarists for ergonomics and playability. With their feedback, I changed the scale and neck angle to optimize the design" says van Heumen. "Those changes were very quick using PTC Creo."
Van Heumen also used PTC Creo to design the aluminum molds and tools for manufacturing the guitar. "The guitar's body, neck, and headstock are a single piece. Because it uses a cast manufacturing process, it needs to have a continuous hidden parting line and draft that's ergonomic and attractive," he says.
The Aristides OIO guitar was born, featuring a one-piece integrally molded Arium body and neck, a top-grade ebony fret-board with pearl inlay, and a thin-layer aluminum silver or matte black finish.
Since its launch, the Aristides OIO has received outstanding reviews and established loyal fans in North America, Japan, and Europe, including Adrian Vandenberg, who played with David Coverdale and Whitesnake on Whitesnake's #1 hit "Here I Go Again." Vandenberg says playing an Aristides is "like hitting a key on a Steinway grand piano!"
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