3D Printing a Smartphone Speaker

My projet has to do with how 3D printed objects can be used as devices for education. Making speakers is a tangible and engaging way for students to come to terms with how sound propagates. I found the following 3D printed design on Thingiverse which I’ve talked about before.

Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 1.01.38 pm

Created by OrigamiCats on Thingiverse


While the ‘speaker’ phone is a great way to connect with the old turntables of old, you can see a 3D printed object like this might be the culmination of a series of lessons where the ideas of sound are unpacked over a series of lessons.

  • How does sound propagate?
  • Can you draw how you think the sound moves from the smartphone, through your tube and to your ear?
  • Can you design your own speaker?
  • How does the material used influence how sound propagates?
  • What are the limitations of your design?

Getting the students to design the speaker via regular pen and paper would be a good place to start and once the students have a design they are comfortable with, they could then jump onto a 3D graphics program to design their own speaker.

You could then use a device to measure the differences in sound output, to see which device worked best. Have you used 3D printing for anything like this?


Monash University 3D Printing a Small Jet Engine

It’s an easy thing to understand how 3D printing plastics works. A term known as additive manufacturing, it’s as simple as understanding that a layer of plastic is laid on top of another layer of plastic over time. Of course initially the plastic is going to be hot, to allow it be flexible and as it is printed it cools and solidifies – which leaves us with our 3D printed object.

As you will remember from your science days, metals are molten at a particular temperature, but that temperature is quite high, making this an untenable proposition in terms of safety or creating nozzles that could withstand this temperature. The process of 3D printing metal involves using powdered metals, which use a laser to either sinter or melt the power. Here’s a good definition from Wikipedia:

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) is an additive manufacturing technique that uses a laser as the power source to sinter powdered material (typically metal), aiming the laser automatically at points in space defined by a 3D model, binding the material together to create a solid structure.

There are various differences in technology, outcomes and techniques, but this gives you a good idea of how 3D printing metal might work. 3D printing materials in this way has been of interest to automotive and aviation industries, to develop new designs and for spare parts. The question has been whether the quality of these parts can stand up to the high specifications required for the aviation industry – would you be the first person in a fully 3D manufactured plane?

But the technology and the quality of the products have been developing to the point where Monash University have manufactured a small jet engine using 3D printed parts! Amazing, check out the video below

3D Printed Chain Lifts Car #3dprinting #3dprintingED http://bit.ly/1nxguhQ

3D printing technology is to a large degree about small devices and work by ‘hobbyists’. But work is being done in other more industrial areas, such as the automotive and aviation industries where the quality of the 3D fabricated component is essential. I’m personally interested in hearing about the first ‘3D printed plane’, although i might wait a little while before I’d be happy to fly in it 🙂

HP have entered the market with their 3D Mulit Jet Fusion which has 10,000 nozzles and is touted to print 10 times faster than current technologies. Some in the media have called this a game changing piece of technology, although we will have to wait until 2015-2016 to see it on the market. HP are aiming to have their printers used in industry, aiming their price point at around $150,000.

So while you and I probably won’t be getting our hands on one anytime soon, the boffins have thought to demonstrate the strength of their 3D printed items by lifting a car. Yes, a car. As you do.