Anyone happening upon Nothinglabs.com may find the name to be quite the misnomer. Born from the brain of Rich Olson, a self-taught engineer who tinkers with lasers, robotics, 3d printing, electronics, radioactivity and software for mobile devices, Nothing Labs' site is teeming with imaginative ideas for those interested in fun, do-it-yourself engineering projects revolving around 3D printing.
One of the more recent projects featured is an OpenScad script Olson created called SpeakerGen that gives hi-fi audio experts the opportunity to print their own customized 3D printed speaker enclosures.
SpeakerGen enables any audiophile to generate a CAD model of a speaker box attuned to specific acoustic properties known as Thiele-Small parameters. The Thiele-Small parameters help determine the sound output of a loudspeaker. By adjusting the Thiele-Small parameters in the SpeakerGen script, users can customize a speaker enclosure's size ratio and thickness to create a 3D printable speaker box that ensures optimal sound quality. Other features can be adjusted as well, such as the hole for a bass port and cut-outs for the speaker itself.
Mr. Olson intentionally developed the SpeakerGen script in OpenScad so it could be integrated with Thingiverse's Customizer, which provides a simple user interface eliminating the need to modify the SpeakerGen OpenScad script directly.
The inspiration to develop SpeakerGen came from a desire to create a practical 3D printed product that pushed the size limits of what was possible with current desktop FDM build plates. Mr. Olson realized that most desktop 3D printers had just enough build space to accommodate printing a speaker enclosure, making it a perfect project for audio lovers interested in customizing their stereo systems.
"Using traditional fabrication methods constructing speaker enclosures can be very labor intensive," Rich explains. "While it may take a long time to print, sound-weakening enclosure gaps and other challenges associated with hand fabrication and laser cutting are not an issue with 3D printing."
The SpeakerGen application was also inspired by online speaker box calculators, such as the closed enclosure calculator at HIFI Speaker Design which allows anyone to delve a little bit further into the mathematical formulas used in the speaker cabinet design process.
Olson offers more details on his Nothing Labs blog. The information provided will transform any stereo neophyte into a hi-fidelity aficionado, and instill some 3d printing knowledge along the way.