New materials and customised earbuds from Formlabs

Formlabs has announced two new resins and a partnership with 3Shape to develop a solution to create custom earbuds, which it will be demonstrating at this week’s Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas, USA.

Formlabs has teamed up with 3Shape to 3D print custom earbuds.

The new resins are Rigid, the first from Formlabs to be reinforced with glass resin, and Grey Pro, which offers high precision and versatile material properties, including moderate elongation and low creep that should be good for concept modeling and functional testing.

Max Lobovsky, co-founder and CEO of Formlabs, explained the rational behind these materials: “We believe we can drive 3D printing into more end-use applications by dramatically improving material properties and significantly decreasing the cost per part, bringing the promise of 3D printed mass customization closer to reality for businesses and consumers.”

The customised earbuds solution is based around Formlabs’ Form 2 3D printer combined with 3Shape’s latest in-ear scanner, the Phoenix, which is also being launched at CES. The idea is that this combination can be easily used in almost any mass market environment. This is a fairly obvious market for 3D printing, giving that there’s quite a bit of variation in ear canals between different people and so a custom-fit earbud that fits our individual ears perfectly should provide long-term wear, comfort, stability, noise reduction and noise cancellation from the environment compared to current comfort headphones.

Dávid Lakatos, chief product officer at Formlabs, predicts that 2018 will be the year that customized earbuds really take off, adding: “This announcement marks a significant use case for 3D printed mass customization at the consumer level, but the implications of the technology go beyond headphones to include hearables. We’re proud to be part of the growing force behind accessible, affordable, high quality 3D printing that is making on-demand production of custom earbuds finally possible.”

3Shape, which was founded in 2000, makes 3D scanners and CAD/CAM software for various markets including dental and audio. Formlabs and 3Shape have worked together on other projects including producing surgical guides.

Formlabs is also demonstrating a number of customer applications, including the way that Quip uses the Form 2 printer to prototype parts for its electric toothbrush. In addition, Pankl Racing Systems, which makes engine and drivetrain components for vehicles and aerospace, will show how it uses Formlabs’ Form Cell automated 3D printing production solution for printing parts and tooling.


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