3D Printed Speaker Pushes Rapid Prototyping Boundaries

We think Formlabs has really figured out the key to advertising their line of 3D printers — just design really cool stuff that you can 3D print in resin, and release them publicly! To celebrate a firmware upgrade to the Form 1+, they’ve designed and released this really cool 3D printed speaker which you can make yourself.

Designed by [Adam Lebovitz], the speaker can be printed in just a few jobs, using their flexible resin for the dynamic components. It even sounds pretty damn good.

As you can see in the following exploded view of the speaker, almost the entire thing is 3D printed out of just two materials — minus some copper wire, 37 disc magnets, and one cap screw.

Exploded view of speaker

Of course, this isn’t the first time someone has 3D printed a speaker, but [Adam’s] done a pretty slick job of it. They’ve released all the design files for free (you do have to request them), but it’s foreseeable that it could be printed on a standard FDM machine with support material — it’s just much easier with a resin based printer.

Similar to their 3D printed monocle (which includes the lens!), this is a great example of how far SLA based printers have come.

[Thanks for the tip Jennifer!]

34 thoughts on “3D Printed Speaker Pushes Rapid Prototyping Boundaries

  1. Nice job! I am concerned about the acrylic box though. The shape of a cube has the worst acoustic properties. That one looks almost like cube to me. Quite counter-productive to build nice sounding speaker and then kill some of its properties with the box design. Still, great job!

    1. the cube enclosure really will do nothing to reduce the quality of this speaker.
      it is bad on every level.
      too flexible.
      VERY badly wound coil, the coil winding is one of the most crucial things to get right! and they just wind a load on and hope. they put on so much too! bad. bad bad bad.

  2. I’m always frustrated by cool Form 1 prints I see online. I got a Form 1 for my lab and it has been only slightly better than useless – we’ve had four tiny prints work out, out of two dozen tests. Given that there are practically no adjustable options to get wrong (and my lab has extensive use using other printers successfully) we can only conclude that the machine we got is a dud. :(

    1. I have a Form 1. Their resin is annoying, it’s so thick that I think it’s part of the problem. I had far more consistent and better results with Made Solid resin.

      That said, the machine is in for repairs about a year after I first received it.

  3. I’m not really sure how you can say it ‘sounds pretty damn good’. From the video you can’t easily tell but I’d lean more towards it not sounding so great personally.

    But the idea of it and actually making it work is pretty awesome. Although I’d probably not bother making one since they’re so cheap to buy and you could make a paper plate speaker for less if you really wanted to.

    I’ve never seen a 3D printer like this before. It reminds me of the big industrial type ones but in a desktop form. At $3299 I can’t say I’d be rushing out to buy one, but very cool !

    1. This. That comment about its sound is pretty silly unless the author was able to hear it live. Even recording its sound and playing it in a video (which is not what is don here) wouldn’t help.

      However, the idea is great and the potential too. If you approach this scientifically something good may actually be made. With this technique you can adjust pretty much every parameter: dimensions, moving mass, magnetic field, shape of the profile of suspension, may be its elasticity to a degree, shape and structure of the membrane itself. Measure the speaker after each print and it may actually start sounding good.
      Also, one should be using 3D printing capabilities to also print the perfect box for the speaker, as box is 50% of success (failure).

  4. I bet that the last “speaker” version of the song is not real. It sounds just EQ’ed version of the first one without any other effect (such as room echoes).

    Real Paul Pounds comment, I smell something in this “advertisement”.

  5. I’d be surprised if that thing was able to output voices more clear and coherently than electromagnetic phone speaker.
    So resin printers can now also print flexible material, for which this stunt of course the poster boy.
    I think the big innovations in 3d printing in the near future will resolve around composite printing (in one go) and I do not see resin based printing being able to pull that off efficiently.

  6. This is nice to watch, but kinda backward imagine how much time and effeort it costs to do it and what quality you will achieve. Rapid Prototyping my ass. You prototype things that are not available to you in short time or at all. A 3D Printed speaker can easily be bought in great quality for low prices on fast shipping. But I guess I miss the “idea man, its just a demo on what is possible”… kinda retarded possiblity if you ask me. Quo vadis 3D printing…

    1. Why can’t you regard this as “just a demo on what is possible”? Why is it retarded as a proof of the machine’s ability to make parts?

      As such, I don’t think your argument is consistent or makes sense.

      1. “what is possible” is a pretty lame excuse in the 3D printing marked today. To many possibilities are shown, to few real problem solved. The 3D Parts, the Clip and the Photos are entirely driven by naming brands and showing nice images and basicly comes down to marketing. The content is pretty low and seeing that sheme again and again in different 3D variations gets a bit anoying sometimes. Building airplanes out of sausages is “possible” as well and you can make some slick video material of it, but then again, the content… it’s just showbiz. It is White bread and not whole-grain bread. It’s just not that rich of serious potential. It has a nice package and really caught attention, but the ingredients are just sugar, hopes and broken dreams…
        Then again, my comment seemed of enough value that you were provoked to comment on it. Thanks for noticing my comment I guess…

        1. I noticed too.
          Companies that make tools, aren’t there to make your project for you. You are the one who is supposed to go a step above with the materials given. This is hack-a-day, if something doesn’t do what you want it to, make it.

          They are there to sell to the average person; As a someone who was in sales, you don’t sell someone on stats, you sell someone on dreams and potential. The reptilian half of our brain likes cool stuff to look cool. They are in it to make money, if you try to sell to the grey matter you will have a limited base, and unless you have contracts, you probably wont reach the end consumer.

          If you don’t like that approach, invent something better, or come up with an idea that you can market to grey matter folks. Market space is always ripe for innovators.

        2. OK, I think I understand what you’re getting at. For the forseeable future, 3D printing isn’t going to be the way to manufacture items, except for very specific niches. Their main use is still mostly rapid prototyping machines, though some people are using these to cast silicone molds for small run manufacturing. For this case, it’s definitely not worth the time and money unless you’re prototyping.

          This speaker happens to be one of the more complicated marketing proof of concepts I’ve seen in the industry, possibly beating even the better samples I’ve seen made using the Objet machines. I’m sure more complicated stuff is prototyped with this kind of machine, but that doesn’t leave the R&D departments of the companies that use them.

        3. Marketing’s like that. You show off what can be done; not necceceraly what would be done. Printing a speaker’s a fun example of what can be done with the machine. No-one would, as it’s expensive, and sub-standard compared to a normal speaker. The techniques used, however, might be useful for something. Personally, I’d have picked doing something that required a high print resolution for the add, as well as the ability to print rubber, but that’s just my view.

          What I do find appears to be the problem with 3d printers is that a lot of people seem to view them as a cure-all for making anything. There is a point in 3d printing the whole of something for an add. In most real-world cases, there isn’t. You use the tool that’s available, and right for the job. Using a 3d printer to print a flat piece of plastic with 4 holes in is pointless, but people still do it, as they’ve got a 3d printer and they’re going to use it for everything.

          1. “Using a 3d printer to print a flat piece of plastic with 4 holes in is pointless, but people still do it, as they’ve got a 3d printer and they’re going to use it for everything.”

            Or they lack the skills/tools to do it another way?
            Or they want to something else at the same time?

            “pointless” is in the circumstances of the beholder.

    2. “You prototype things that are not available to you in short time or at all.”

      Like alternative speaker designs?

      Consider this a “base” design people can then play with the parameters to see what effects it will have.

  7. I for one completely understand the whole “proof of concept” thing going-on here. Anyone posting negative comments about the fact they made a speaker is an uncreative person and is probably a lousy engineer. To spell it out for you types: Formlabs printer can make small parts, big parts, hard parts, flexible parts — all with apparently high precision.

    I suspect a lot of the angst is envy. A lot of folks seem to have a problem with the ~$3k price. Personally, I think it is a great deal because comparable systems cost much more. You either need SLA, or you don’t. If you do, $3k seems like a great deal, no?

    1. I for one completely understand the whole “head in ass” thing going-on here. Everybody knows that creative people and good engineers never ever criticize anything at all, especially with on-topic arguments regarding subjects that are close their own activities and specialties.They’d never! Therefor it is quite reasonable to simply assume a lack of creativity and skill, certain levels of envy and problems with the price point simply because of that.

      Surely nobody who has anything negative to say about anything could posses even the most basic understanding like not understanding that this SLA device can make small parts as well as big one. ARE YOU LISTING YOU UNCREATIVE NEGATIVE BOTTOM FEEDERS???. How could they know that this machine actually produces high precision hard and ALSO flexible parts?????? They could not.. For they are negative and uncreative and damn-well lousy engineers.. ALL OF THEM!

      You utter tool!

    1. Yeah, design and print speakers for the odd niches in cars where you like to have sound come from but no stock, factory produced speaker will fit, or the only ones that will fit are much smaller than the space simply because nobody makes anything like a 4-3/8″ diameter one.

      Custom diameters, custom shapes to fit the odd spaces to provide “infill” sound to commercially produced drivers.

      I bet the sound would be better if the frame was made to hold a commercially made ring magnet. Add a large fender washer and bolt for the center pole and 3D print an assembly jig for epoxying the washer, ring magnet and bolt together. Better than the bolt would be a piece of steel rod with its ends faced smooth on a metal lathe. Drill and thread one end for a bolt to firmly mount it to the washer.

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