Auckland Uni gets electric eclectic addition with additive expert

Multi-award-winning product design developer and engineering researcher Professor Olaf Diegel will join the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Engineering in early 2019.

auckland uni professor
Professor Olaf Diegel

The University of Auckland will welcome Professor Diegel as its third appointee under the government’s Entrepreneurial Universities programme.

He is a New Zealander returning to take up a new role as head of the Creative Design and Additive Manufacturing Laboratory (the Lab) which aims to significantly change the way additive manufacturing (AM) is implemented in industry.

AM uses a layer upon layer process rather than the conventional manufacturing processes which subtract material to carve out the finished product. Because of this, AM can produce parts that are infinitely more complex than is possible with conventional manufacturing and, if designed for, can be both cost effective while adding tremendous value to products by make them lighter, more efficient, customised, or adding to their functionality and sustainability. It has had an impact in a number of industries including aerospace, automotive, medical, fashion and has had some application in construction.

Deputy-vice chancellor (research) Professor Jim Metson says the University is delighted to welcome Professor Diegel back to New Zealand to take up his new role.

“Additive manufacturing is one of the fastest moving areas in a sector that is increasingly important to the country. Securing his leading-edge expertise will enable research and industrial applications that are game changing.”

Professor Diegel has been leading the product development department and AM lab (the third he has founded) at Lund University in Sweden since leaving New Zealand in 2014. During his career he has developed over 100 new products for companies in New Zealand and worldwide including several home health monitoring products, security and marine products and lighting products.

These include the Spengler SCVL cardiovascular lab, a monitoring technology that gives a comprehensive picture of a user’s cardiovascular health. It measures not only blood pressure but also pulse pressure, mean arterial pressure and cardiac output through a device attached on the upper arm and another attached to the ankle. The technology represents a paradigm shift in the detection of cardiovascular conditions.

He has also helped to develop Selecon’s Pacific range of theatre spotlights which produce a cooler, whiter beam of light as well as a number of sophisticated modular dimming systems for Kiwi company Theatrelight.

Professor Diegel believes that AM enables creativity and innovation, allowing designers and inventors to immediately test their ideas to see if they work. This passion and creativity has flowed through to his own start-up, ODD Guitars, where Olaf produces 3D printed guitars and basses.

He has received over 20 prestigious product development and research awards and is a principal co-author of the “Wohlers report” (Additive Manufacturing State of the Industry, Annual Worldwide Progress Report).

The University’s new Lab led by Professor Diegel will ensure New Zealand is a leader in creative design and additive manufacturing, revolutionising manufacturing methods and products, and promoting projects with commercial potential through interdisciplinary research, Professor Metson says.