I hate earbuds, as I don’t relish the idea of having to jam a tiny piece of plastic into my ear in order to talk on the phone or listen to music…and, just like my distaste for chocolate chip cookies and cheeseburgers apparently makes me un-American, this fact probably makes me un-millennial. But luckily, 3D printing technology means that I don’t have to wear earbuds ever again if I don’t want to, because there are 3D printed headphones galore these days. There are 3D printed headphones that will monitor your mental state, or perhaps you prefer your headphones to be 3D printed using precious metals, or to feature a 3D printed grille for better sound diffusion. Maybe you just want your pet to have his own pair of mini headphones…I’m not here to judge.
I personally prefer the DIY 3D printed headphone kit by Dutch startup print+, which just launched its first product after its successful Kickstarter campaign. The customizable DIY Headphone Kit includes all of the necessary electrical components for a pair of headphones, and includes 3D files so you can print your own.
“The core idea of print+ is to inspire people to move away from this wave of hyper consumption to one in which we connect with our goods through being their producer,” explained Patrick Schuur, the founder of the print+ team. “By producing ourselves we in turn gain the ability to fix them, upgrade them and appreciate their functionality.”
Because the parts are created on demand, all of the waste from overproduction and the pollution from transportation on a delivery truck are eliminated, making for a sustainable form of distributed manufacturing. There’s also a very fast turnaround on the print+ headphones, as all of the parts are 3D printed locally: the startup has partnered with the 3D Hubs network, so you can order your headphones from one of its 7,000 local 3D printing hubs in over 150 countries. You can also choose one of the free files and 3D print the headphone parts yourself.
Each DIY headphone kit comes with a set of speakers and cushions, a headband, a push button remote control with mic, and audio cables – all you have to do is add the 3D printed parts. The technology is all about customization – the back of the kit shows the 21 available colors, and there are 6 base designs for 3D printing, from retro to rounded; my personal favorite is Design #2, strictly because the description reads “Say hello to my big chamfered edge.” There’s also an additional file for a modular frame that can be used if your 3D printer has a small build plate, and all of the files list the optimal print settings.
The 3D printed parts consist of speaker covers, the frame, left and right speaker housings, and the parts for the remote (button, housing, and tray). You can use most desktop 3D printers to print these parts with minimal support material, and print+ recommends that you use PLA material, due to its easy printability. The ability to produce the headphones on a desktop 3D printer is important to the startup’s project and vision: it proves the technology goes further than just prototyping, and can be used to create functional end products.
The modular design is easy to assemble – no glue, screws, or soldering required; you can find a complete set of step-by-step instructions on the print+ website. Any of the components and parts can be easily upgraded or replaced, which adds to its sustainability. Each DIY Headphone Kit costs €35, though the leather option will set you back an additional €5, and the locally made 3D printed parts also cost €35; you can also purchase Polymaker filament on the site.
Print+ is already planning its next line of products, and will once again work with the global 3D Hubs network to bring even more customizable, locally made DIY products to the world. Discuss in the print+ forum at 3DPB.com.[Source/Images: 3D Hubs, Print+]
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