These Custom 3D-Printed Earbuds May Actually Stay in Your Ears
Any music lover knows how difficult it is to find earbuds that actually fit inside your ears. That’s why we like the idea of “Normals,” a new and relatively affordable line of 3D-printed earbuds by New York City-based company Normal Ears.
A pair of Normals costs $199 (which includes tax and shipping), but the fitting is free: You simply download a free app from the Google Play store or Apple App Store and use it to take a few photos of your ears. Preordered Normals wills ship Aug. 9, but after that, the company says U.S. customers will receive their earbuds within 48 hours of submitting their orders via the app.
To use the app, you’ll need a quarter as well as a smartphone, so the camera can get a size reference when measuring your ear. First, make sure your smartphone’s volume is on, so you can hear the timed instructions. Then, to take a picture of your left ear, hold the quarter against your face just in front of your ear with your right hand. With your left, hold your smartphone with the rear-facing camera toward your face (or get a friend to photograph you, as the app recommends). You need to get a picture that includes the quarter, the entire shape of your ear, and your nose and profile.
With your ear and profile captured, you can customize the size and color of almost every part of the earbud design before sending it off to be built. Normal Ears uses 3D imaging to create a model of your ear and then 3D-print a custom sleeve in ABS plastic (one of the most common 3D-printing materials) that fits your ear perfectly.
The earbuds come with a cord about 44 inches long (though you can also get an extra-long cord of about 63 inches) and a carrying case that can be custom-engraved with a 12-character string of text.
Normal Ears isn’t the only company that promises custom-fitted earphones. However, most other options usually require customers to have molding poured into their ears to create a cast, and they cost several hundred dollars.
Without having the Normals earphones themselves, it’s impossible for us to tell what the sound quality will be. Still, the Normal app is easy to use, and the concept of fitted earbuds alone has us listening.