Mar 19, 2016 | By Alec
Though there are several markets that are not at all tapping into the full potential of 3D printing, perhaps the most conspicuous among them is the headphone and earbud market. Over the past few years it has become increasingly apparent that people are willing to pay good money for high quality and perfectly fitting options – and 3D printing and 3D scanning can obviously add a whole new dimension to that concept. Fortunately, a number of startups are already working on that idea, including the British company Snugs and Japanese startup Vie Shair. But now a new challenger has appeared in India, where the largely unknown Tymphones have set up a system to 3D scan ears and 3D print custom inner-ear-monitor (IEM) earbuds effectively.
They’re India’s first custom inner-ear headphone manufacturer, and are based in Bangalore. As they revealed to Indian media, they are effectively seeking to add a whole new dimension to the Indian audiophile scene with their custom-fitting 3D printed solutions. While 3D printing and 3D scanning hasn’t exactly taken off commercially in their country, they do have an excellent product that could go all the way. With their laser 3D scanners (licensed from the Atlanta-based United Sciences), they believe they can provide superior solutions to audiophiles, professionals and musicians in India.
And it does seem like their products have what it takes. They reportedly offer high levels of comfort, a very snug fit, and the ability to block out ambient noise at a level comparable to, say, the Bose QC20. The latter ability is derived from the perfect fit, that leaves almost no room for exterior noise sources. This, they say, also diminishes the need to turn to volume all the way up. “We find a lot of people suffering from the early stages of hearing loss because they pump up the volume so much to avoid the outside noise, it leads to hearing loss,” said Eobin George from Tymphones.
What’s more, the company already has three different options in various price classes available. The basic model is the Debutant, that can be customized in terms of color, case and label (costing Rs. 29,900, or about $450 USD). The next option is the Avancee, which allows the users to have multiple drivers (quite expensive at Rs. 68,000 or $1020 USD), with the Professional version trumping the rest with pro-tuned drivers, a custom faceplate and hand-crafted 3D artwork. But for Rs. 120,000 (or $1800), you are paying for it.
But for that money, you do get a custom fitting process. Though right now only open on invitation-only, it relies heavily on 3D scanning. Their two in-house scanners are currently shipped to whatever location where they are needed, where 3D models of a customer’s ear will be made. Those files will then be sent to the US for 3D printing. Returned to India, the models are fitted with circuitry and any optional custom cosmetic touches, such as engraving. Right now, the process takes up to a month to complete.
The idea is that they can eventually move the whole process to India and cut down production times to about a week, but so far they have been unable to find adequate 3D printing services without a significant margin of error. However, that does not make these headphones any less impressive. They look great, and the 3D printing is reportedly done in biocompatible materials.
What’s more, they are customizable from head to toe, including the drivers’ sound signature, the number of drivers and even the length of the part entering your ear. “Some people have a very tiny ear canal while their outer ears can be big. For them if you have really long earpieces it may fit on the outside properly but when you are trying to insert it into the ear, it may harm them,” Eobin explained. “In such cases we reduce the length to make it a lot more comfortable,” he added. They are currently using Knowles drivers, but even they can be tweaked to match the user’s sound preferences.
In short, Tymphones seems to have all the ingredients for an excellent product. If they can become a significant production success in India, what would stop them from going further? If you’re interested and in India, you can catch them at the Palm Expo in Bombay in May, and get a custom ear scan yourself.
Posted in 3D Printing Application
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123456 wrote at 3/20/2016 7:32:58 PM:
wow thats old, inear got this for almost ten years