By TOM CALLIS
Tribune-Herald staff writer
Imagine designing your own guitar on a computer and essentially printing it on a large state-of-the-art machine.
Or taking that favorite photo of a honu and carving it flawlessly into a window within hours.
With 3-D printing, and other computer-aided-design technologies, it’s not only possible but feasible for anyone with the desire to learn, according to Neil Scott, who works for the College of Education at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
All that’s needed is access to the machines.
And with price tags in the thousands, or tens of thousands, of dollars, that’s no small hurdle for any individual.
But even that challenge could soon be eliminated, at least for East Hawaii.
On Dec. 6, Scott is launching the state’s first commercial “makery” right in downtown Hilo, where some of the technology that is already changing the way manufacturing is done would be available for anyone to rent.
“The 21st century has arrived,” he said.
And as Scott sees it, it could be a game-changer for the isle’s economy.
“The real goal is to create jobs, meaningful jobs, for as many people as possible,” said Scott, whose main job is the director of the college’s Archimedes Project and Technology for Untapped Talent program.
The Makery, Hilo, as it is being called, will offer access and training on two machines to start with at its location at 126 Keawe St.
Both are laser cutters and can take a design from a computer and turn it into a finished product.
The largest and most advanced machine, which is 8-feet-long and 4-feet-wide, can carve a design into glass and even work with materials such as leather, wood and stone.
3-D printing machines that apply thin layers of plastic and other material to make objects will also be available for use, Scott said.
Additionally, the makery will host a gallery, cafe, framing shop, conference room and office space for entrepreneurs who wish to use the equipment.
But what exactly could the machines be used for?
Scott, who sold his Honolulu condo to fund the project, said it can range from anything from jewelry, small trinkets and tourist items, to guitars, urns and almost anything someone wants to make.
He also says the quality can rival if not surpass hand-crafted objects, depending on the skill of the designer.
“It should be indistinguishable,” Scott said.
He holds steel guitars he has made with the equipment as an example.
Scott said they have been regarded as high-quality instruments, and he plans to use the makery to demonstrate how well it can be done.
“We’re establishing the first real steel guitar factory in Hawaii,” he said.
Within a week, a guitar can be finished, with each fetching $2,000 or more, Scott said.
He said he has teamed up with someone to head that effort, adding that the makery’s share of the revenue will go into covering its costs and subsidizing those who may have little cash to contribute.
While that may pay the bills, he said his main focus is on unlocking entrepreneurial talent and teaching isle residents how to use CAD technology, which he says is in high demand.
“The whole idea is 21st century manufacturing,” Scott said. “A model of trying to show how a local community can have a self-funding place where people can learn how to build stuff and make stuff.”
Scott can be reached at 808-222-2128 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Email Tom Callis at email@example.com.