One of the most enticing aspects of 3D printing is the yet to be fully tapped into, which is the opportunity it presents with respect to high levels of customization. One of the first companies to bring this aspect to light when it comes to a consumer goods is Normal, a Manhattan-based home to an item that will undoubtedly top many Christmas gift wish lists this year. Just a month after their official launch, Normal celebrated its Grand Opening Saturday at it’s new Manhattan storefront.
The items in question are custom 3D printed ear buds, created within this recently opened store-front. A titillating, one-of-a-kind concoction, brought to you by some ‘nerdalicious software and 3D printing’, as promised by the folks at Normal. Yes, you heard it right! Here’s how this wonderfully personalized piece would come to life:
During the store visit, you can have your ears photographed – both right and left ear, the company stresses, since our ears can vary in small yet important ways, and you really want to make sure that the fit for both ears will be just perfect, that being the point and all. Next, the photos are uploaded into the top-secret software and the customization of the earphones which include cord length, color and accent color preferences, is performed and finally printed using a Stratasys Fortus 250mc printer. The final product is then shipped to the lucky owner in 48 hours, for the retail price of just $199.
“I want to stress that the cool thing about Normal is that it’s our store, factory and headquarters,” says CEO Nikki Kaufman. “We have ten printers here now, you can see that the retail floor is built very modular so we can swap out displays and pop in a printer,” she adds.
Sounds quite fresh, swinging somewhere between odd and genius, which often makes for a smashing success. Gone are the days of having to visit your doctor’s office if you wished to have a custom-built mold of your ear created. Normal is making that need go ‘bye-bye’ by allowing users to take a picture of their ear with a coin for size reference, and upload it to their app. That is if you can’t make it to the store in person for a more ‘ear-to-print’ experience.
Keeping true to their company slogan, “one size fits none”, Kaufman adds that although no new products are in production just yet, many are being considered. The company is in the process of launching new earphones with more color and cord options, just in time for the upcoming holiday season. Hence the wish list idea. Kaufman predicts big things when it comes to specialized 3D printing, with high margins, and success like that of which has been seen within the industrial manufacturing arena.
“3D printing has been around for prototyping, model making and hobbyists,” she says. “Normal is using 3D printing for the first time to mass produce a consumer good.”
An added bonus to all of this? Finally being able to snap back at anyone wanting to borrow your earphones by simply saying, “Sorry, no can do. These babies fit me and only me.”
Have you paid a visit to the Normal store yet, or purchased the ear buds online? Let’s hear your thoughts in the Normal forum thread on 3DPB.com.
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