Olaf’s Guitars

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.

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