Disney Researchers have used 3D printing to manufacture an electrostatic speakers in any shape desired. Enormous advances in technology for speakers have been made in their research centre in Pittsburgh.

The latest speaker developed by Yoshio Ishiguro and Ivan Poupyrev. The latest speakers are electrostatic speakers which do not require moving parts. Electrostatic speakers use an older type of technology in which sound is produced by the force applied to a membrane which is suspended in an electromagnetic field.

This is good for the higher pitched sounds e.g. chirping birds, humans and squeaky sounds. As well as electronic sounds which are inaudible to the human ear.

Some useful applications are that the speaker can be 3D printed to fit many types of shapes or casings. The ultrasonic features can be used to track toys or games.

Electrostatic speakers can produce a sound across the whole face of the speaker unlike electromagnetic speakers which provide sound in one direction.

Electrostatic speakers are currently manufactured with a combination of traditional manufacturing and 3D printing, but within five to ten years 3D printing will be the method of choice because of the multi-faceted aspects of 3D printing that are developing rapidly.

So that electro circuits and electrodes will be 3D printed into the design, we can currently see this with a dual headed extruder such as the Ultimaker 3.

Rabbit Proto is a new Open Source company aiming to do this know and this is just the beginning of 3D printing of electronics into design projects.

In the original paper Yoshio Ishiguro and Ivan Poupyrev, they proposed a technology for designing and manufacturing interactive 3D speakers which will allow for the sound reproduction to be put into various objects of any shape at the sound design phase.

This allows audible and non-audible sounds to be produced with the same technology and the non-audible sounds can be used to track a devise.

This paper also summarises by saying that it is possible to create:

  1. Audiable sound with broad range of geometric shapes.
  2. The direction of sound can be changed the shape of the speakers and using assorted different electrode arrays.
  3. Numerus speaker shapes can be imbedded into the objects.
  4. 3D printed speakers allow for tracking and identification by using ultrasonic sound frequencies.
  5. Speakers can be manipulated by touch, without reducing the speaker quality. Also in future Heptic feedback will allow this speaker and technology to develop further.
  6. These speakers are quite cheap to produce, low powered and where necessary can be run by a battery.

 

Association For Computing Machinery (ACM) (2014). 3D Printed Interactive Speakers. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/TxsyPdTdW5A [Accessed 31 Aug. 2017].

Hensley, M. (2014). Disney Researchers Use 3D Printing to Create Electrostatic Speakers In Any Shape Desired. [online] 3DPrint.com | The Voice of 3D Printing / Additive Manufacturing. Available at: https://3dprint.com/2846/disney-3d-printed-speakers/ [Accessed 8 Jun. 2017].

Ishiguro, Y. and Poupyrev, I. (2014). 3D printed interactive speakers. Proceedings Of The 32nd Annual ACM Conference On Human Factors In Computing Systems – CHI ’14, [online] pp.1733-1742. Available at: http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?doid=2556288.2557046 [Accessed 8 Jun. 2017].

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