For more sustainable, efficient consumer products, additive manufacturing Syngs

Syng, creator of the world’s first triphonic speaker, aspires to revolutionize the way people listen to music. In 2021, it introduced its first speaker, the Cell Alpha, promising a ‘new category of audio – smart sound.’

One of the key elements of the Cell Alpha is the Triphone, a three-horned sound projector that resembles a halo as it encircles the middle of the spheroidal speaker. Together HP, Syng, and Forecast 3D came together to design and manufacture the Triphone component using HP Multi Jet Fusion technology.

The partners believe the collaboration is an example of how 3D printing is enabling more sustainable, more efficient consumer products from design to production. The 3D printing journey began with discussions between HP and Syng to learn more about Syng’s needs and HP’s 3D printing design and productions capabilities. During early conception phases, Syng’s team of audio and design experts established that complex, uninterrupted pathways would allow for sound to travel uninhibited through the triphonic system. However, this integral component would have to be manufactured as a single, seamless part in order to achieve Syng’s design objectives.

“All of the conventional ways of making those parts had downsides that we wanted to avoid,” Syng’s Director of Mechanical Engineering, Yoav Ben-Haim explains. “Ultimately, 3D printing proved to be the one method of manufacturing that would allow us to create this component in a singular piece, and to impart it with its various functionalities: six speakers mounted with precise features, 10 pressure seals, complex airways, and unique cosmetics.”

“The Triphone represents 20% of the speaker. It’s a very complex, strong part with a lot of internal cavities,” adds Pere Aizcorbe, Head of Design at Syng.

Aizcorbe’s colleague Camille Zaba, a Mechanical Engineer, notes further, “We would not have achieved the shape that we needed for this part had we not gone down the additive manufacturing route. Instead, we would have had to make one of the main pieces of our speaker out of multiple parts, which adds cost, complexity, and risk.”

Syng worked with HP’s Multi Jet Fusion technology to produce the speaker parts in HP 3D High Reusability PA 12, chosen for its durability and performance. The material met all the team’s impact and structural needs, and the component itself passed all the quality requirements from Syng, including drop, abuse and vibration testing.

Design freedom

Syng Co-founder Christopher Stringer has previously commented, ‘I don’t ask what shape that I want to impose on a speaker. I ask, what shape does the speaker want to be?’ John Greeven, HP 3D Printing Solutions Architect explained how the design freedoms afforded by 3D printing contributed to the collaborative process.

“First, HP Multi Jet Fusion was the only viable 3D technology based on the part size, complexity and cost competitiveness required for a final product,” explains Greeven. “Right away those advantages removed the traditional constraints from the product design. The dimensional accuracy of the Jet Fusion printers enabled us to work together to redesign the part specifically for 3D printing, to optimize the design and orientation of the parts. In addition, using 3D printing allowed for much more iteration across development cycles providing extra time for fine tuning the design versus using other technologies or traditional injection molding.”

As progress toward a final 3D printed product continued, HP introduced Syng to Forecast 3D, suggesting they team up to for production of the Triphone element. With 34 HP Multi Jet Fusion printers in its digital manufacturing factory, Forecast 3D serves as the official West Coast Experience Center for HP Multi Jet Fusion technology and is one of the largest additive manufacturing service providers in North America.

“HP’s recommendation is what set us on the path to reach out and ultimately partner with Forecast 3D. The team there was quick to be supportive in the early stages, which helped us make the decision pretty easily,” Ben-Haim said. “What appealed to us most was Forecast 3D’s knowledge of the HP Multi Jet Fusion process, as well as their capacity to deliver the quantities of parts that we needed.”

Together, HP and Forecast 3D supported a rapid development cycle that allowed for each design iteration to be completed within weeks.

Ben-Haim remarks, “Without this support, we would have had to do a significant redesign early on to accommodate conventional manufacturing processes. This would have set back our schedule significantly – probably at least 6 months, because the design would have taken longer, and then we would have had to secure and validate injection molding tools.”

Collaboration is key

Throughout product development stages, representatives from Syng, Forecast 3D, and HP worked in close collaboration. This joint effort was key to optimize the dimensional and visual aesthetics of the 3D printed component, ramp up the production, and set up all the processes and quality control procedures to assure production yields.

“Manufacturing consumer products is complex, so ensuring the processes and quality control procedures aligned with Syng’s needs was always top of mind,” explained Greeven. “We all worked together to address the challenges and pressures of a real production environment for the most critical part of the product that needed to meet the highest quality requirements. It requires an ecosystem that operates like a well-oiled machine to make it possible: from initial training and quality control processes, to continuous improvement cycles, yield monitoring, post processing, and everything in between.”

Zaba points to a specific example where additive manufacturing saved her company considerable time and money.

“In the midst of one of our early builds, we had some issues with warpage on the part; the flatness of it,” Zaba explained. “Fortunately, Forecast 3D’s swift turnaround times on providing new prototypes allowed us to cut in a new design during the build, which would not have been doable with traditional injection molding tools due to the geometry of the component’s supporting fins. Even if we had found an alternative design with plastic injection molding, it likely would have taken us another 12 weeks to produce those parts. We not only saved valuable time with Forecast 3D’s help, but also tens of thousands of dollars for the tool itself. Also, we were able to validate this new design without having to shut down the assembly line, which would have cost additional resources”

“Again, 3D printing allows manufacturing to be optimized in many different ways, including providing specific benefits and value based on the volumes for a particular project,” said Greeven. “By extending the build size and optimizing the geometric design, Syng was able to maximise productivity by 40% and lower cost-per-part. Not only did this lead to a yield in production, but it also allowed Syng to achieve design tolerances that are otherwise unachievable.”

Commenting on the ability to consolidate components within the Halo using 3D printing, with a need to protect the Cell’s overall sound quality, Isabel Sanz, another HP 3D Solutions Architect who worked on the project, shared:

“Because this component interfaces with the various subsystems within the product assembly, we had to be diligent in ensuring that all 56 critical dimensions met the design specifications to enable smooth assembly processes downstream without any sacrifice on design or sound quality.

“Geometries used in acoustics also impact final sound quality. The ability to optimize the Triphone design to eliminate the need for multiple parts and as a result seams between those parts was hugely important.”

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