Jori van der Kolk
1 October 2015
Usable DIY Headphone right out of your 3D printer
Print+, a Dutch start-up, has designed a 3D printable headphone. It has recently launched a Kickstarter campaign that has already reached its goal with still 13 days to go.
I often get the question “Is it possible to make usable products with a 3D printer?”.
The simple answer is, of course, yes, but it is not the simple answer that people want. What people really want to know is if it is possible to make a complicated usable product. Something like a flashlight or even a coffee machine.
3D printing a new coffee machine at home is not something we will be doing soon. But we will be 3D printing simpler products.
A recently started Kickstarter campaign is doing exactly that. In this case, the product is a headphone.
When you back the project, you get all the electronics you need, plus the files you need to print the physical headphone.
This is how it works: you buy a little box containing a few non-3D printable parts like speakers and cables; you print the external parts at home on your 3D printer and, then, you put all together to get the final product. The result is a 3D printed headphone.
To make its assembly as easy as possible, all the parts easily click or snap together. So, you don’t have to know how to solder.
Since the headphone was designed to be 3D printed, you can print it in one go. Plus, when it comes out of the printer, you don’t have to remove a lot of support material that would make your print look ugly.
The headphone was designed by Print+, a Dutch start-up that wants to bring 3D printable products to the market. They work open source, so you can modify the headphone any way you want. Print+ wants you to be able to print fully functional products at your home.
Because customization is the key factor, the headphone kit will be available in a lot of colors.
This way, you can truly create your own personal product. Plus, if you don’t like your yellow headphone anymore, you just print a new one, or combine it to make a multi-colored headphone.
A leap forward
In my opinion, Print+ is taking a step in the right direction. They acknowledge that 3D printers have a lot more capabilities compared to the way we are currently using them.
The problem is that, nowadays, products are not made to be customized or enhanced. And if you get a little bit of freedom, they’re certainly not open source.
If we really want to make sure that 3D printing can be used at its full potential, we have to design or even think differently about the way we make products.
Digital fabrication can cause a 3rd Industrial Revolution only if we think about producing and using products in a different way.
Print+ has taken the first step to producing in a new and different manner. They are paving the way for other start-ups to create open source products.
So, to answer the initial question: yes, it is possible to create fully functional products at home with your 3D printer. But your choice is very limited.
I think that, in the near future, more products will become available for home production. In a few years, we will maybe reach the point where you receive a little box of electronics at home to print and put together your new coffee machine.
I think we can safely say that 3D printing has changed the world.[/ezcol_4fifth_end]