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3D-Printed Saxophone

August 17, 2014

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,CAD/CAM/CAE — Terry Wohlers @ 08:08

Note: The following was authored by Tim Caffrey, senior consultant at Wohlers Associates.

Olaf Diegal has done it again. His latest feat: a 3D-printed alto saxophone. At 575 grams vs. 2.5 kg, the laser-sintered nylon instrument weighs less than a quarter of a metal sax. Consisting of 41 separate parts, not counting the metal springs and screws, a saxophone is an incredibly complex instrument. One can only imagine how time-consuming the modeling of all the 3D-printed parts was using SolidWorks.

Olaf admits his first version had a few small problems. Nevertheless, as a design exercise, his sax is nothing short of amazing. For the second version, he plans to redesign the instrument by integrating all the spring actions into the 3D-printed parts.


The attention Olaf’s sax has drawn on the Internet is also amazing. His YouTube “sneak preview” video has been viewed nearly 200,000 times since it was posted less than three weeks ago.

One reason Olaf decided to tackle the challenge was to show that real-world products beyond trinkets and Yoda heads can be 3D printed. He is actively looking for a new challenge in design and 3D printing and has asked us to help him identify a new project. So, if you have ideas, please pass them along to him or us.

Olaf is an associate consultant at Wohlers Associates and a professor of mechatronics at Lund University in Lund, Sweden. You may be familiar with the stunning 3D-printed guitar bodies that Olaf designs, prints, and assembles into fully functional masterpieces. If you are unfamiliar with them, have a look at the ODD Guitars.


August 3, 2014

Filed under: 3D printing,additive manufacturing,CAD/CAM/CAE,manufacturing,travel — Terry Wohlers @ 14:33

Imagine an eight-month RV road trip across the U.S. with more than 100 scheduled stops. The purpose: to collect stories and information from customers of design and manufacturing tools, such as CAD software and 3D printing. Accomplished writer and 3D enthusiast TJ McCue is leading the tour. I’ve gotten to know TJ over the past 2.5 years, and I can say without reservation that Autodesk, the tour’s sponsor, could not have picked a better person to head this effort.

TJ has written extensively for Forbes, Small Business Trends, Yahoo! SMB, and Harvard Business Review. His writing is informative, thought-provoking, and engaging. TJ’s company, Refine Digital, explores design, 3D scanning, and 3D printing, so the tour compliments perfectly with what he’s about. TJ helps companies with go-to-market strategies, content marketing, and business development, so I’m sure he will be in an even stronger position to provide advice after the tour.


TJ wrote, “The 3DRV tour is exploring the cities, towns, and off-the-path byways to uncover a fundamental change in the way things are designed and made, and how this is bringing radical change to business and to society at large.” He continued, “At each waypoint, we are celebrating the creative process, while illuminating the impact of design through firsthand customer stories, consumer creativity, and student innovations.”


The images and descriptions that TJ has assembled are impressive. He has made 38 site visits thus far—all documented at the tour website. He is also shooting video footage, so I’m looking forward to seeing some of it. I’m sure he will have countless stories and examples of design and manufacturing to share with the world. Congrats to TJ for taking on this important activity as an interesting way of promoting and celebrating the world of product development.