There have been numerous reports in the media regarding really useful and clever designs and applications for 3D printing.  So it was only a matter of time before the use of 3D printing stretched into the music world.

Researchers at Cornell University in New York have successfully designed and fabricated a working loudspeaker using 3D printing technology.  The work undertaken by these researchers is one of the first times that a complete electronic device has been printed from the ground up, into a working product.

3D Printed Speakers

The developers believe it could one day enable people to print small products, tiny components and devices for use in the home.  The speaker’s plastic body, conductive coil and magnet were all made using a “Fab@Homes” 3D printer at the university and the speaker was almost ready to be used as soon as printing was finished, the university said.

The Fab@Home is a research printer that was developed by two of Cornell’s students to assist researchers in experimenting with 3D printing. One of the developers, Apoorva Kiran, a graduate student in mechanical engineering, worked with fellow student Robert MacCurdy on the speaker design.

The ability to print components such as speakers using a 3D home printer is one of the ideas for the future of 3D printing technology, however, it is not mainstream yet.  Standard printers are totally unsuitable for 3D printing and amongst the 3D printers that are beginning to come to market; many do not have the capabilities to print with different materials. The fabrication of a single device also requires the selection of materials that work well together, according to Cornell. Conductive coil, copper and plastic being printed from the same printer require different temperatures and curing times, it said.

The research into 3D printing is still in its early stages as yet, as a recent report by Gartner shows.  They predicted that the market for sub-$100,000 3D printers will grow 49 percent this year to 56,507 units on the back of rapid increases in quality. For 2014, Gartner expects the 3D printing market will increase by approximately 75 percent, to just over 98,000 units and that shipments will almost double again in 2015.

[Image via: designboom]

SOURCE: http://www.pcworld.com/article/2081301/cornell-researchers-print-3d-speaker.html#tk.rss_all