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Sennheiser and Formlabs team up on custom 3D-printed earbuds

Take an image with your smartphone and the company will create a custom mold.

Sennheiser / Formlabs
Daniel Cooper
Daniel Cooper|@danielwcooper|February 18, 2021 9:00 AM

3D-printing company Formlabs is teaming up with audio giants Sennheiser to make custom tips for the latter’s high-end Ambeo earphones. Users can take an image of their ear with a mobile app, which they then upload, generating the design for a custom-fit earbud. Once designed, the plans are directed to a Formlabs’ Form3 printer for creation. In a statement, the pair said that the new process means that customers can acquire custom earphones, potentially, on the same day they were ordered.

Using smartphone imaging to create custom-fit earbuds without the use of molds isn’t a new practice, but has mostly been the province of specialists. Snugs already offers a service similar to Sennheiser’s, albeit as tips for other companies' earbuds. Similarly, companies like Sony have built ways for users to calibrate their audio profiles by using a smartphone picture of their ear for better listening. But the idea of introducing custom fit tips for a company as big as Sennheiser could potentially be revolutionary.

Naturally, Formlabs is happy to say that the key to the innovation is in its 3D-printing technology, which is finding plenty of real-world uses. In 2018, the company teamed up with Gillette to make user-designed razor handles, on a scale that’s rarely been seen before. Similarly, the company worked with New Balance on a 3D-printed sole, which uses a custom-designed resin for improved athletic performance.

Unfortunately, the pair aren’t prepared to talk about when we’ll be able to see the fruits of this partnership in a real product. Or, in fact, what the proposed cost for a custom-fit ear bud would be when they do become available, but it’ll be interesting to see how readily these options will be pushed in the near future.

Sennheiser and Formlabs team up on custom 3D-printed earbuds