Feb.24, 2014

If you've always had trouble finding the perfect pair of earphones, this new 3D-printed titanium earphones just might be music to your ears.

In collaboration with NTT Data Engineering Systems and Probox Japan, Japanese Hifi company Final Audio Design (FAD) designed and created the world's first mass-produced 3D-printed titanium earphones called 'Final audio design LAB 01'.

Although Final Audio Design's earphones only appeared in the market in 2009, this Japanese company was established way back in 1974 by Mr Kanemori Takai. Prior to making earphones and headphones, they were producing highly regarded amplifiers, turntables and speakers.

The Final audio design LAB 01 features a 3D printed titanium 64 housing, BAM (Balancing Air Movement) mechanism, full-range dual balanced armature driver, stainless mesh filter, acoustic resistor and original silicon ear pads.

The housing was printed by NTT on an EOSINT M 280 3D printer made by German company EOS, a system for the selective laser sintering of metal components, using Titanium Ti64, a titanium alloy powder. The EOS M280 is using a bed of titanium powder and a laser to weld metal together to produce the final product.

To reach the best output data for the housing, FAD has created a great number of prototypes. See below:

3D printed titanium part is grayer and rougher than the traditional shiny milled titanium. But polishing the final products to restore the original metallic shine requires just as much know-how as creating the part itself. The FAD has been working with Probox Japan which is specialized in special metals processing to polish the rough finish from the laser sintering process.

Polishing process

3D printing has helped the company to significantly reduce the time and cost of producing injection molded sample parts. According to Hosoo Mitsuru who is in charge of products planning and development at FAD, it costs usually at least 20 million yen to create a mold, plus 30 million yen for the development fee. In the past the company needed to make high volume orders of their parts to keep costs low. But with 3D printing, it is now possible to print small quantities of production quality parts.

We are eager to see where FAD goes from here. The Final audio design LAB 01 will be available in later February for a price of 160,000 yen ($1,563, €1,136, £936). FAD will be launching LAB 01 in a limited edition format, a total of only 150 sets will be made and only 30 sets are assigned to Japan.

Images: Final Audio Design

Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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jd90 wrote at 2/25/2014 3:53:32 PM:

Save on the cost of injection molded parts, only to 3D print super expensive titanium parts... I kind of doubt the polishing method is that special, that texture looks about as rough as sand cast surfaces.

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