How a small startup in Czechia is challenging the giants of the audio industry with the help of 3D printing
It started, as many creative revolutions do, with a problem. “I’m a designer, a creative,” says Ondrej Chotovinsky, Founder of Deeptime Audio, “so I spend a lot of time working at my desk listening to music.” There are a few items you will find on every creative’s desk: a computer, a large monitor, and speakers. The problem, however, was that music fans faced a choice. Standard PC speakers are compact but generally have poor sound performance. On the other hand, professional sound equipment like studio sound monitors are large and expensive. And neither of these options offer the visual appeal of something designers want to have on their desk.
Sand 3D printed raw housingAssembling the speakerFinal tuning
The quality of a speaker’s sound is not just determined by the electronics built into it, but by the acoustic properties of the casing the electronics are housed in. Traditional speakers are made of sheets of MDF or plywood. With the added strength of a box-shaped construction, the finished case is stiff and airtight to reduce vibration and create a resonant chamber behind the speaker membrane. But what if you don’t want your speakers to be box-shaped?
This was the start of an eight-year quest for the perfect speakers, made possible by an innovation that is revolutionizing the creative industry: 3D printing. Traditionally, manufacturing a hardware prototype was a significant investment – and even after the prototyping phase, the process of updating and upgrading designs was held back by the need to produce in bulk to justify the cost of creating hard tooling or patterns.
We looked at manufacturing the base units with other 3D sand printing suppliers on the market, but no one could match ExOne, from day one.
Ondrej Chotovinsky, Founder of Deeptime
All of that changes with 3D printing, where a digital design can be turned into a unique piece of bonded sand. Semi-finished products like the printed form of a speaker can be delivered in under a week without any tooling. Through the power of mass customization, every new order can be an upgrade and the minimum order size is one. But there are a number of different technologies on the 3D printing market, and finding the right process and material for each use case can be tricky.
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Learn How a two-year study conducted at the Brno University of Technology verified the acoustic properties of the finished object; the sand structure manufactured on ExOne 3D printers is 86% more rigid than MDF.