3D printer used to create working speaker

We’re starting to think that 3D printers can create anything now that we’ve been told about this new invention. Cornwall University engineers have created a working loudspeaker using a 3D printer. The speaker emerged from the 3D printer ready for use. All it needed was an amplifier and something to play music through. To demonstrate the speaker’s worth, the students played a portion of Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech where he talks about 3D printers.

3D printers are available cheaply now and they can make small and complicated parts from plastic. We’ve read about a gun made using a 3D printer, but even that doesn’t seem as difficult as producing a working speaker using the technology. Where a 2D printer, like the one attached to your PC, has different ink cartridges, a 3D printer has different types of plastic. The biggest job for the machine is extruding the plastics at different temperatures and coping with the material’s different curing times.

The speaker was created from a plastic housing with a flexible diaphragm. A magnet and conductive coil were added to complete it. Silver ink was used for the conductive part and the magnet was created using strontium ferrite, everything else was printed from plastics. 3D-printing pioneer Hod Lipson and his students Apoorva Kiran and Robert MacCurdy were responsible for this breakthrough. “It opens up a whole new space that makes the old look primitive," Lipson said.

When a way is found to do this cheaply other electrical goods will be created using this technology, so we’re expecting to find that radios and cameras eventually made using a 3D printer. At the moment, technology allows us to record, produce and broadcast from home and it looks like the future will be one that allows us to manufacture from home as well.

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