We've seen the great potential of 3D printing from "magic arms" for a little girl to robotic hands. It was only a matter of time until designers found a way to make printable gadgets that people can use and enjoy right off the printer. These headphones snap together with no soldering or other tools required.
Called the 13:30 headphones because it takes 13 hours and 30 minutes to print the parts, designer John Mabry from Teague Labs made these on a professional-level Dimension 1200ES model ABS FDM machine. The electronic components have to be purchased separately, but can all be put in place by hand and then the whole thing clicks together through smart design.
Teague says, "With 3D printers becoming more accessible we decided to have a think around the concept 'life in beta' as a future scenario. What if printed prototypes could become actual products? Meaning, once off the print bed an object could be assembled without any tools and be made functional by readily attainable components. I decided to stress test the premise with the challenge of making electronically simple yet functionally complex headphones."
Right now the headphones require soluble support printing to keep them from breaking apart, which isn't possible on a consumer-level machine, but Mabry is working on editing the design to work with the Maker Bot Replicator and believes tweaks can be made that deliver the same quality without soluble support. For now, he has posted the CAD file and instructions in the Maker Bot Thingiverse for those who do have access to a professional machine.
The best part of these headphones is that they let us dream of a very near future where we will be able to print gadgets and tools that we need right in our home with just a little assembly required and no wasteful packaging or shipping.