Consumer ProductsMass Customization

Sennheiser developing custom-fit 3D printed AMBEO ear tips

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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.

3D printed AMBEO ear tips
3D printed AMBEO ear tips 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.

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Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based VoxelMatters. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites and, as well as VoxelMatters Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

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