Blog

February 4, 2015

3D Printing for a Better Product

I recently completed my first project with a new client — Dana of Spectrum Acoustics. Folks like Dana are my ideal customers — passionate about the work they do and determined to use new technology to improve their product or invention. Dana approached me with a labor-intensive part that he’s been manufacturing with a table saw for his speaker systems, and hired me to design the part in CAD and manufacture it for him with 3D printing. By 3D printing just 6 parts, Dana saved 66 parts cut on the saw, 216 holes drilled in aluminum, 432 drilled and tapped holes, and 432 bolts!

20140723_183427_resizedEach not-printed waveguide is a TON of manual work!

Dana uses his patented speaker and waveguide design in line arrays and spiral arrays for everything from auditoriums to festivals and outdoor events. Line arrays carefully channel sound through aperture path length corrected gaps so that the constructive interference is maximized and the deconstructive interference minimized, thereby increasing throw and dispersion. In this case, our 3D printed waveguides used in conjunction with mechanical barriers, provide frequency ranges that simply cannot be achieved with normal line array construction methods. What this means for the audience or concert goer is that as they walk around one of Dana’s line array setups, they’ll hear fewer gaps in the sound across a greater range of listening angles. No matter where you are in the audience, you get good sound. As speakers improve and come down in cost, Dana is able to assemble line arrays with smaller speakers, minimizing cost and maximizing sound quality and sound stage.

Dana knows all about sound and speakers, but not as much about CAD design and 3D printing. He thought about purchasing a printer, but wisely decided to hire me to design and produce his waveguides instead. By hiring me, Dana gets to focus on what he’s best at: producing great sound, and I focus on what I’m best at: designing and printing great parts.

crossSectionIsoThe capabilities of 3D printing allowed me to improve performance by aligning the waveguide to the speaker surface.

In addition to saving Dana a ton of manufacturing time and assembly, 3D printing improves his system performance and allows Dana to easily scale or reconfigure his design. Unlike a traditional plastic mold — we can reconfigure the speaker positions or scale the product for smaller speakers with minimal expense.

2014-11-19 15.38.22The 3D printed waveguide can easily be re-configured for different speaker sizes and arrangements.

I often hear folks lamenting the fact that we don’t have a Star Trek Replicator — that 3D printing isn’t good enough. They are still waiting for 3D printing to change the world, but what they don’t realize is that it’s up to us to make that happen. People like Dana are on the front lines; using 3D printing as a tool to improve their product and make their small business more competitive. You can do it, too — get in touch and join the ranks!

 

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