Graduate students Apoorva Kiran and Robert MacCurdy at Cornell University have successfully demonstrated a working loudspeaker produced on a 3D printer. The breakthrough in this design is that it is a conventional moving coil unit. That means that not only are the frame and cone printed but also the coil and magnet.


They used a Fab@Homes 3D printer which is a customizable research machine originally developed by associate professor Hod Lipson and former graduate student and lab member Evan Malone. The printer gives researchers the flexibility to use different materials in the cartridges and also to change the printers control software. A cartridge of silver ink was used to print the coil and the magnet was printed using a viscous blend of strontium ferrite developed with the help of Samanvaya Srivastava, a graduate student in chemical and biomolecular engineering.


The design produces just two printed parts which fit together to make the speaker. Kiran explained that “A loudspeaker is a relatively simple object; It consists of plastic for the housing, a conductive coil and a magnet. The challenge is coming up with a design and the exact materials that can be co-fabricated into a functional shape”.


Credit: Jason Koski/University Photography