April 28, 2014

Scientists at Disney Research, Pittsburgh have developed methods using a 3D printer to manufacture interactive speakers. With the proposed technology, sound reproduction can easily be integrated into various objects at the design stage.

The speaker can take the shape of anything from an abstract spiral to a rubber duck, opening new opportunities in product design.

Furthermore, both audible sound and inaudible ultrasound can be produced with the same design, allowing for identifying and tracking 3D printed objects in space using common integrated microphones.

The design of 3D printed speakers is based on electrostatic loudspeaker technology first explored in the early 1930s but never broadly adopted until now. These speakers are simpler than common electromagnetic speakers, while allowing for sound reproduction at 60 dB levels with arbitrary directivity ranging from focused to omnidirectional.

An electrostatic speaker consists of a thin, conductive diaphragm and an electrode plate, separated by a layer of air. An audio signal is amplified to high voltage and applied to the electrode; as the electrode charges, an electrostatic force develops between it and the diaphragm, causing the diaphragm to deform and produce sound as the audio signal changes.

 

This type of speaker has relatively little bass response, but does a good job of producing high-frequency sounds, such as chirping birds, computer-generated blips and even the human voice. Sound reproduction of up to 60 decibels is possible – an appropriate level for small objects.

 

"What's more, it can generate sound across the entire face of the speaker," researchers noted. That makes it possible to not only produce directional, cone-shaped speakers but also omnidirectional speakers in which the entire 3D surface emits sound.

 

Also, the speakers can be built with any number or configuration of electrodes; placing multiple electrodes in a curved speaker, for instance, makes it possible to vary the direction of the sound emitted.

Researchers created conductive surfaces by spraying a nickel-based conductive paint and developed a method for making full-body compliant diaphragms using negative molds produced by 3D printing and spraying them with the conductive paint and with a polyethylene coating.

Little assembly is required, but these few manual steps might be eliminated in the future, said Yoshio Ishiguro, a Disney Research, Pittsburgh post-doctoral associate. Once multi-material 3D printers are developed that can print functional electrical circuits and electrodes, these manual steps could be eliminated.

"In five to 10 years, a 3D printer capable of using conductive materials could create the entire piece," he predicted.

Ishiguro and Ivan Poupyrev, a former Disney Research, Pittsburgh principal research scientist, will present this method April 29 at the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI) in Toronto.

 

Posted in 3D Printing Applications

Maybe you also like:


   




Leave a comment:

Your Name:

 


Subscribe us to

3ders.org Feeds 3ders.org twitter 3ders.org facebook   

About 3Ders.org

3Ders.org provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now six years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive