There’s no doubt 3D printing technology is making inroads into the audiophile sphere, as witnessed by a host of products now reaching the market. And now a company called Snugs is taking the ultimate, personalized approach to building headphones by using 3D scans of each customer’s ear canals to tailor them to the individual ridges and anomalies of each human ear.
They say the custom buds improve sound quality and comfort. Snugs makes the sound devices with 3D scanning technology, with they say speeds the process as well as improves the final product.
While the UK-based Snugs once used a paste and fill process to create molds for each customer’s ears, they now say they can bring the same level of personalization to consumers. They’re not cheap and with the use of the latest in 3D ear scanning technology laser-mapped end result perfectly matched the intricate design of the user’s ear canal.
They say the scanning process and the construction of a digital model takes just five minutes, and the less invasive method produced with the scanner cuts back on production steps and provides the most accurate image possible.
The previous process required having silicone paste pushed into the ear canal–it was invasive, labor-intensive and not applicable to any customers with ear-related ailments. Snugs says the removal of the physical mold means the customization process, which once took a week, is now less than four days.
The 3D scans are, of course, simple to manipulate and archive, and they can be produced by 3D printing service bureaus around the world.
As of now, the scans are output by third-party service bureau partners using industrial, silicone 3D printers. They’re then hand-finishing prior to shipping. Snugs says they want to bring all production in-house before the year is out.
Again, they’ve not cheap at this point, but they are a sort of high-end, professional use, luxury product, so that may not prove an impediment. If you take a trip to have your ears scanned–thus far, the process is piloting only in London–the scan and the buds will set you back £159, and if you’re a person of means who can afford the full house call treatment, the prices ratchets up to £209. And remember, when the process is complete you have silicone earbuds not the in-ear headphones which drive them.
Snugs say they plan to open a brick-and-mortar store in London capable of handling the entire process of scanning an printing on-site.
Would you buy these customized earbuds in search of perfect sound? Let us know in the 3D Printed Snugs Earbuds forum thread on 3DPB.com.