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Olaf’s Guitars

June 23, 2012

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 17:33

I have been lucky to receive many parts and products made by additive manufacturing over the past 25 years. The first was a full scale automotive distributor cap made by stereolithography. SL photopolymers in the 1980s were particularly fragile and I managed to crack the part sometime after receiving it, but it is otherwise intact and in our office. I may now have sufficient number of AM parts to create a small museum. Maybe that’s where they should end up someday.

The most recent AM product is arguably the most valuable and largest I’ve received. It is a “spider guitar” designed and manufactured by Dr. Olaf Diegel, a professor at Massey University in Auckland, New Zealand. This image shows Olaf and me at last week’s AM conference near Paris, France. I’m holding the guitar that is now on display in our office in Fort Collins, Colorado. I brought it home in two parts in roll aboard luggage. A professional at a local guitar store added new strings and made adjustments and it sounds and looks great!

Olaf has been making guitars for several months to see how well they’d turn out and to determine whether there’s a market for them. He is using SolidWorks and laser sintering to produce the main body of the guitar. The designs are receiving an impressive amount of press, including some television. Google “Olaf Diegel guitars” to see a number of articles. Olaf said that he’s receiving about a dozen inquiries per day from people interested in purchasing one. He’s planning to launch his family of guitars commercially by around July 6. The guitars are expected to sell for $2,500 for a standard Scarab and Spider designs and $4,000 for the Atom (Les Paul style) guitar.

I hope Olaf sells a boatload of guitars and my instincts tell me he will. In fact, he may very well face a problem of keeping up with demand. The guitars turn heads and I foresee thousands of professional and amateur guitarists wanting to own one, especially since Olaf has offered to produce custom versions. We may someday look back at how additive manufacturing helped launch another successful product and business. Congratulations to Olaf for the early success of his striking guitar designs.

Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute

June 10, 2012

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,manufacturing — Terry Wohlers @ 01:51

On March 8, 2012, the White House announced a proposed investment of $1 billion for a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation involving up to 15 institutes across the U.S. An investment of this size requires congressional support, although a pilot institute has been funded by the Departments of Defense, Energy, and Commerce, and the National Science Foundation in the amount of $30 million. With required matching funds, the three-year program is valued at $60 million. The most exciting, at least for some, is that the pilot institute will be dedicated to additive manufacturing.

A proposers’ day was held in Washington, DC on May 16, marking the official start for many organizations interested in responding to the Broad Agency Announcement (BAA). In reality, some teams had already begun to form and work was well underway by mid May. For them, the meeting provided additional clarification and an opportunity to explore partnering with those in attendance. An estimated 300–350 people were at the event, either in person or by webinar. Among them were 24 potential prime contractors that had expressed interest in responding to the BAA.

Soon after the May 16 meeting, several prime contractor candidates chose to merge with other teams. Currently, I’m aware of five teams that have a strong set of partners, but there could be others. Only one of the teams will receive the award, yet the BAA has caused many people and organizations across the U.S. to talk and create alliances like I’ve never seen before in additive manufacturing. It is really quite interesting, even exciting, to watch it unfold. I truly hope that it leads to new consortiums and programs that would otherwise not develop. I spoke with two teams that said they plan to seek separate funding if they do not receive the BAA award. I suspect that other teams, or parts of teams, will also push ahead with ideas for new programs around additive manufacturing.

Tom Kalil, Deputy Director of Policy at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, opened up the meeting on May 16. Kalil was instrumental in deciding to focus the pilot institute on additive manufacturing. Tim Caffrey and I have had a chance to work with Kalil and we could not be more excited about his involvement and what it could lead to in the future. It is initiatives like this that can help advance AM and take our country to the next level in product development and manufacturing.