Integrating the plastic, conductive and magnetic parts, the speaker if ready for use almost as soon as it comes out of the printer, the university reported Monday.
It's a process that may soon become familiar, the researchers said; rather than assembling consumer products from parts and components, complete functioning products could be fabricated at once, on demand.
A loudspeaker was chosen for the first project because it is a relatively simple object, Kiran said, consisting of plastic for the housing, a conductive coil and a magnet.
Creating a simple device like a loudspeaker is just the "tip of the iceberg," Lipson said, adding 3-D-printing technology could be moving from printing passive parts toward printing active, integrated systems.
Creating a market for printed electronic devices, he said, could be like introducing color printers after only black and white had existed. "It opens up a whole new space that makes the old look primitive," he said.
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