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article image3D printing produces first ever consumer electronics

By Tim Sandle     Dec 29, 2013 in Technology
Researchers based at Cornell University have printed a working loudspeaker using 3D technology. The printing process has seamlessly integrated the plastic, conductive and magnetic parts together.
Additive manufacturing or 3D printing is a process of making a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model. 3D printing is achieved using an additive process, where successive layers of material are laid down in different shapes.
Using this technology, a research team has created a speaker suitable for use with a hi-fi system or MP3 player, PC World has reported. The speaker consists of plastic for the housing, a conductive coil and a magnet. The challenge was coming up with a design and the exact materials that can be co-fabricated into a functional shape.
Once the complexities were overcome, the speaker was manufactured. For the demonstration, the amplifier played a clip from President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech that mentioned 3D printing. This is shown in the video below:
3D printing is predicted by many technologists to the future norm. One day, rather than assembling consumer products from parts and components, complete functioning products could be fabricated at once, on demand.
The loudspeaker project was led by Apoorva Kiran and Robert MacCurdy, graduate students in mechanical engineering at Cornell University. The students were under the supervision of Hod Lipson, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.
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