Audio specialist Sennheiser’s AMBEO division is developing a production method that enables customers to affordably and easily customize their earphones to fit their unique ears. The custom-fit, 3D printed AMBEO ear tip prototypes in development further refine an immersive sound experience.
“We are very excited about the concept of custom fit to deliver a custom experience to further enhance immersive listening,” said Véronique Larcher, Director of AMBEO Immersive Audio at Sennheiser. “Formlabs shares Sennheiser’s drive for innovation – and improving the customer experience through this prototype is a testament to that mindset.”
Formlabs’ automated manufacturing solution provides the capability to bring mass customization to the consumer audio industry. By automating multiple Form 3B printers and processes around an integrated digital workflow, an affordable and simple solution is now available to mass 3D print custom-fit earphones.
Customers are able to use their own smartphone to scan their ear, replacing the more traditional and impactable ear impression process. In this case, the Hearables3D smartphone app was used to deliver a scan in less than a minute by using artificial intelligence to improve scan quality and reconstructing parts of the ear not captured from the phone. This scan is then sent directly into a cloud-based machine learning system that uses statistical modeling to convert the scanned ear shape within seconds into a specific earphone design, ready for 3D printing on a Formlabs 3D printer.
The earphone design is sent directly into Formlabs’ PreForm software which prepares the 3D print file for a Form3 printer, or queues and routes print jobs automatically to a multi-printer Factory Solution for seamless high throughput manufacturing with minimum labor requirements. Thanks to the Form 3B’s low force stereolithography (LFS) technology, the 3D printed earphones are highly accurate with an exceptionally smooth and detailed surface finish which further reduces manual labor required for mass custom fit production.
“Our technology collaboration with Sennheiser seeks to change the way customers interact with the brands they love by enabling a more customized, user-centric approach to product development,” said Iain McLeod, Director of Audio at Formlabs. “Formlabs’ deep industry knowledge and broad expertise in developing scalable solutions enable us to deliver tangible innovations to our customers. In this case, we are working with Sennheiser’s AMBEO team to deliver a uniquely accessible, custom fit experience.”
Audio is one of the many industries Formlabs’ innovative 3D printing technology can impact. The company’s printers are used in engineering, manufacturing, dental and healthcare, and they are the number one seller of stereolithography 3D printers worldwide. In the audiology space, Formlabs has once again disrupted the industry by cutting costs and production time for 3D-printed hearing aids and enabling the creation of accessible, custom-fit earphones.