Saturday, February 1, 2014

Want to Listen to Music Louder? Print Off a New Speaker!

Researchers are using a new multi-material method of 3D printing that will allow them to print off working loudspeakers.  Indian-American Student, Apoorva Kiran, and a team at Cornell University in New York have already printed off a working loudspeaker.  The plastic, magnets and conductive parts are all printed seamlessly together, so it is ready to use almost right off the printer.

This is a great example of how things that currently require multiple parts to be assembled together will soon be able to be printed off as one solid piece.  This will not only cut the amount of time and money it takes to create these products, but it will also make them much more durable.  We won’t have to worry about a screw coming loose or adhesive coming apart.  The items we buy will be one seamless piece, which is, of course, much stronger.

Kiran said, “Everything is 3D-printed.  A loudspeaker is a relatively simple object.  It consists of plastic for the housing, a conductive coil and a magnet.  The challenge is coming up with a design and the exact materials that can be co-fabricated into a functional shape.”

For this printer, Kiran used silver ink for the conductor, and for the magnet a blend of strontium ferrite was used.   Of course, the plastic was the easiest part of the speaker.

This is quite an accomplishment, and really shows how important it is that 3D printers are starting to be able to print with multiple materials.  It is, according to the release, like going from an only black and white printer to a full color printer.  It opens a lot of doors that were previously shut, and we are really only scratching the surface of what will be able to be done with this technology. 

The bottom line here is, if you blow out a speaker in the future, you won’t have to run to the store or even visit Amazon.  You can just load in the schematics to your computer and print off the speaker of your dreams before you go back to jamming to Justin Bieber!

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