The Orphanage Guitars guitar is safely in the hands of our CEO, Carl Bass. Senior Principal User Experience Designer, Erin Bradner, Product Marketing Manager, Liz Freuler, and I had the pleasure of working with Orphanage Guitars to feature a one-of-a-kind custom guitar as part of the Autodesk University 2013 keynote presentation. My flight from Las Vegas to Oakland was my first time traveling with a guitar as carry-on baggage.
For those who did not attend #au2013, Orphanage Guitars is a great story about a 2-person company looking outside to fuel their passion for design and ending up with an entirely new business model. Matt Harris is an industrial designer. His brother Jonathon is the a web engineer.
Matt's company, Red Point Studios, in Manchester New Hampshire, is a successful little shop designing industrial tools and small devices. Jonathon's company, Demo38 LTD, provides custom WordPress web design / front-end development, 3D visualization creation, and curation of cool things designed and coded. One thing about Matt and Jonathon is that they both love to learn. Last year, they heard about Fusion 360 at AU and decided to spend a week learning the tool.
As a test project, they decided to model a custom electric guitar. Fusion 360 is the first and only cloud-based 3D modeler. It combines industrial and mechanical design and lets you do parametric solids and T Splines at the same time. It was perfect for Matt and Jonathon's project. Instead of taking a week, Matt and Jonathon designed their new guitar and had it ready for machining just 2 days after they started using Fusion 360. And so they thought: Just two days to design a custom guitar from scratch? Hmmm... That was the moment they saw a golden opportunity to create a new business designing custom guitars.
Let's see how they did it:
They used Fusion 360 to model the basic guitar body.
Then they went over to T Splines to manipulate the organic form.
And in Fusion 360 they could easily integrate 3rd party components which made no sense for them to design and model from scratch.
That's a pretty cool way to design a guitar, but what Carl found most interesting about the work that Matt and Jonathon are doing is how they involve and collaborate with their customers. In fact, Carl found it so cool that he decided to do it himself. Matt just invited Carl to join his project in Fusion 360, and Carl interacted with the actual model data of his guitar and tweak it how he liked. I was also invited to the project to help coordinate the delivery of the guitar and its role in the keynote presentation:
So we used Fusion 360's collaboration capabilities not just for design and fabrication but also logistics.
Once they worked out all the details together, the model data was ready for machining.
Matt and Jonathon have a desktop ShopBot that mills the body of the guitar. In the course of 2 days, they have a finished custom guitar that's ready for the customer.
This is an amazing story about the power of going outside. These guys really looked outside their existing toolset, their existing capabilities, and the current footprint of their business. And today, just 6 months after trying out Fusion 360, they have a new business that’s thriving: Orphanage Guitars.
You can see the guitar in action as part of the keynote video. The Orphanage Guitar story starts at 37:20 into the video and continues until 40:13. Check it out:
Matt and Jonathon lovingly named the guitar The Carl Basstard. While we waited for the keynote presentation to begin, Carl played 4 songs.
He really does know how to play. The guitar is not just some CEO prop. He was willing to play as part of the keynote presentation, and Smoke on the Water was one of the songs he played, but we thought it would be funnier to dub in the song.
Guitar picking is alive in the lab.