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Prototype as Product: 13:30 Printable Headphones

With 3D printers becoming more accessible we decided to have a think around the concept “life in beta” as a future scenario. What if printed prototypes could become actual products? Meaning, once off the print bed an object could be assembled without any tools and be made functional by readily attainable components. I decided to stress test the premise with the challenge of making electronically simple yet functionally complex headphones.

My first go resulted in a good-looking functional model created on a professional ABS FDM machine (Dimension 1200ES: print time 13 hours and 30 minutes, hence the name). It worked out well, but the machine we used isn’t accessible to the average maker, and two of the critical parts relied heavily on soluble support printing—a non-issue for professional 3D printers, a major issue for desktop 3D printers.

With that in mind, I started to adapt the 13:30 design to the Maker Bot Replicator last week. The main challenge: How to build to a similar level of quality without soluble support. With a bit of experimentation, I’m pretty sure it can be done. So, look for some updates on that very soon! In the meantime, I posted the current model(s), component list, and instructions on Thingiverse for you to make your own working headphones right now.


  1. This is quite an interesting experiment. The design and packaging are very nice. Could the box have been just the kit of electronic parts, with a link to the files to print? Or have a widget to be able to design your own a la Nervous System?

    Speaking of customization… can we get some parametric models on Thingiverse?

    I’ve been interested in trying an idea like this for some time. I’d love to do shells for a phone, for instance. Instead of buying a protective cover to hide the case of the phone, you can make customized repeatable parts as the case. How many people buy a shiny new iPhone, with all of its glorious materials and then stick it inside a matte rubberized case that doubles its size?

    In any case I love the discussion, idea, and effort. I would love to go into a rant about our modern disposable lifestyle. And these headphones are good platform to talk about cost, price, and value.


  2. […] a bit of fun creating printable consumer electronics. Named after its elapsed print time, the 13:30 is a pair of working stereo headphones. The idea for these stylish ear goggles centered around the […]

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