If you find that your headphones never quite fit properly in your ears, there is now a 3D printed solution to your problem.
Normal is an NYC-based startup that may solve one of your problems: Your Earphones. Nikki Kaufman founded the company in July 2014 and everything took off from there. Nikki said to ALL3DP: “Everyone says ‘I’m so weird, my ears are so weird nothing fits.’ But the reality is you’re completely normal as there is no normal. Our tagline is “One Size Fits None” as I found that everyone has this problem.”
The company has now teamed up Formlabs and Rebecca Minkoff to create a beautiful “techcessory” – the Rose Gold Earphones. Nikki said: “Formlabs came to us with this idea to make more Normal products using their 3D printers but I wanted to go with a fashion brand and everything just seemed to fall into place at the right time.”
However, this is not the only collaboration of the year as Normal has also launched a partnership with Nike to create limited edition Nike x Normal Volt earphones, geared to runners and athletes. Nikki said: “We will have a limited edition with their specific colour; a version of neon green with the swoosh too. They’re perfect for runners as they’re the only headphones that don’t fall out!”
What was the inspiration for Normal Headphones?
Nikki, an athlete herself, was always frustrated by the fact that her headphones were uncomfortable and never fit properly.
She said: “Before Normal it would cost two thousand dollars if you wanted a custom pair of earphones, that was not something I was ok with.”
The long and arduous process of having custom made headphones involved going to a doctor, having silicone squirted into your ears, and then having to keep your jaw clenched for 10 minutes only to receive your earphones around six weeks later.
Nikki began working for Quirky and felt that something should change. She said: “I was exposed to 3D printing and advanced manufacturing, so I looked into getting a custom pair made for myself,” she said; “3D printing allows for mass customisation. We built Normal to enable mass customization; something that I believe consumers want.”
How Do the Headphones Work?
By using Normal’s mobile app, which is available on iTunes or Google Play, a customer takes three photos of their ears and can then select the colour of their earphones from seven choices of ABS thermoplastic, as well as the colour of the hardware components.
Once this order is submitted, each pair is engineered, manufactured and assembled at the store and can be delivered anywhere in the US in as little as 48 hours.
The store has ten FDM-based Fortus 250mc 3D Printers from Stratasys on site so that the customers can see the whole process as it happens.
New Normal Earphones Edition: The Rose Gold Earphones
The super special edition Rose Gold Earphones are made with the help of a Formlabs printer. Each set is fitted to your ears, 3D-printed in resin and then cast in 14K rose gold.
The collaboration with the 3D printing technology of Formlabs has meant the personalized high-end earphones can be prototyped and developed more quickly. Nikki said: “Right now it’s the only product which is mass produced with 3D printing, so I’m super proud of it.”
Nikki said: “All of this is made possible, from the price and process, because of 3D printing. I believe that customers want custom, so it makes me proud to solve this problem for everyone. When I walk down the street, and I see someone wearing Normal that’s the coolest thing.”
If you want a pair of these Normal earphones, you’ll need to be prepared to pay $249 for the super limited edition Rose Gold Earphones or $199 for the regular Normals. However, if you’re using them all the time, this price tag must be worth it. Nikki said: “This interview is conducted with my Normals – I use them when working, running or sitting with music. I really feel confident saying they’re the best headphones out there.”
What Can We Expect for the Future of Normal?
Nikki said: “Right now, we can print Normal earphones in about three hours. I feel like three hours is great, but I look forward to a time when someone can walk into the shop and out again with their Normal headphones.”
Nikki said of her goals for the future: “I just want to continue to learn and do things that I love and solve people’s problems.”
From now through December 31st, you can stop by at Rebecca Minkoff stores in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco to get fitted for your pair of Rose Gold Earphones or order them through Normal at their NYC shop at 150 W. 22nd Street where you can see the 3D printing and entire assembly process in action.
License: The text of "“Normal” Earphones: One Size Doesn’t Fit All" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.