print+ is a product line of do-it-yourself kits that allows consumers to build and customize their own products. As the mechanical parts can be 3D printed locally, less material needs to be shipped – reducing costs and lowering environmental impact. The print+ headphone is the first installment in this series of DIY kits and just hit the market.
Patrick Schuur started print+ in 2015 as a Kickstarter project. The aim of print+ is to create fully modular products that – for the largest part – can be 3D printed locally. The unprintable parts are provided by print+ in the form of a DIY kit. The fact that the end product is fully modular means that each part can be easily replaced or reprinted when worn out or broken. In this way, not the entire headphone needs to be discarded when, for example, only one of the speakers breaks.
The print+ kits furthermore allow for a near-endless number of customization options. The unprintable parts (the cables, speakers, and cushions) come in 21 different colors – together with the 3D printed mechanical parts, this means a vast amount of options to alter the headphones to your personal taste.
print+ makes all their 3D files freely available so they can be customized and improved by anyone. People can either 3D print the parts themselves, order parts from a local 3D Hub, or get them printed at a local 3D printing store. After printing, the headphone can be assembled without the need to solder, glue or screw, in about 5 to 10 minutes.
As a substantial part of the components can be 3D printed locally, the print+ headphone kits can ship in 1/5th of the volume a completely assembled headphone normally ships in – which is a reduction of 500% of the shipping volume needed.
This means that, in the end, less material is shipped across the globe – which can have considerable environmental implications when executed on a large scale. print+ hopes that local production of plastic will take great flight with projects like these.
3D printing and product design
Patrick explains that projects like print+ would not have been possible 5 years ago. At the time, 3D printing was largely inaccessible as it was expensive and time-consuming. Nowadays, it’s possible to draw a design in the morning and by the afternoon hold the 3D printed part in your hand.
3D printing shortens the development cycle and increases the quality of the end result because you can iterate faster in less time.
The Ultimaker has since become an invaluable tool for Patrick as a product designer. He explains that the machine’s reliability, consistency, and flexibility are important factors in the development of new products like the print+ headphones. It allows for a large number of design iterations in a short amount of time, which is of vital importance to a product designer that wants to speed up the time to market without having to compromise on quality.
By developing products that can be made locally, print+ wants to develop new methods and concepts for manufacturing. The print+ headphone is the first installment in this series of print+ DIY kits. As Patrick argues, “as a launching product it really shows the unused potential desktop 3D printers have”.