Nov 5, 2015 | By Tess

Dutch Design Week 2015, which was held in Eindhoven, showcased some impressive new applications and innovative designs for 3D printing technology, some of which can be read about here. Among them were some especially cool new projects made by students of the Design Academy Eindhoven, including Pieter Husmann’s customized 3D printed earphones, called Hélo. 3Ders was fortunate enough to speak to Husmann about his project and his experiences with 3D printing technology.

For his project, Husmann has combined 3D printing, electronic, and hearing aid technology to create both practical and aesthetically impressive wireless 3D printed earphones. Visually, the earphones consist of a solid colored inner piece, and a clear frosted surrounding based off the mold of the user’s ear. Each earphone also features a four-way switch that allows the user to activate and select various functions, such as opening a text message, email, or even providing statistical information.

Husmann was inspired to contribute to the wearable electronics industry when he, like many of us, got frustrated by seeing how many traffic accidents are caused by people recklessly driving while being on their smartphones. Husmann, realizing that people wouldn’t actually turn off their phones while driving, took a pragmatic approach in trying to help solve this issue and decided to develop Hélo. Not only for driving, however, they can also be used while running, or during any other activity where you might need your hands.

Husmann opted to use 3D printing technology in making the earphones because of his previous experience with additive manufacturing. He explains that he began working with 3D printing technology “3 or 4 years ago during the second year of my study at the Design Academy Eindhoven.” He continues, “I had an idea for some hinges that were impossible to make with the machines in the workshop. With 3D printing I had all the freedom. Since then, many other prints followed: school projects, tools, improved parts for my motorcycle, and my newest product range: Lumì."

Hélo was designed by Husmann primarily using Solidworks software. He adds, “I design everything with it. Google Sketch-Up can be very useful to make all kinds of quick shape studies. I would like to learn Rhino as an addition as I noticed with designing Hélo it can be hard to control organic shapes in Solidworks.” As Hélo are customized to the user’s inner ear, the models were based off of molds made from a hearing aid company.

The process of designing and 3D printing the earphones did not go without a hitch however, as Husmann tried several techniques in manufacturing the earphones. “First I printed the electronics housing with a SLA 3D printer and then spray painted the part in colour,” explains Husmann of the initial process, “That went into a negative mold that I made of my ear. This mold was complex because the shape of the inner ear is completely organic… Almost every time there were imperfections, small air bubbles, or the parts moved slightly. When you work on such small products you see every tiny detail, everything needs to be perfect.”

Husmann found a solution to his manufacturing problems when he enlisted the help of Printanovo, a small Belgian 3D printing service who were able to make his earphones in one print from both the transparent rubber material and the hard colored material using Stratasys’ PolyJet 3D printer. The button, for its part, was made by Dutch based company Shapeways who 3D printed a high resolution mold of the button and cast it with it various metals including gold and rose gold.

Husmann’s project garnered much attention at the Dutch Design Week 2015, and his hopes for Hélo’s future are optimistic. “My main goal now is to get Hélo on the market as soon as possible. I’m considering crowdfunding it but I am open to other suggestions. A partnership with a big company would be ideal because I think lower pricing and better software integration would greatly help the product. That would make Hélo available to as many people as possible.”

At 3Ders we are always excited to hear about young 3D designing talent, and Pieter Husmann is certainly one to keep an eye on!



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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