Products and Design

3D Printed Handles Pump Up the Volume on a Tablet

3D printing can be a powerful tool to improve upon objects we use every day. For example, I purchased a DragonTouch X10 tablet and quickly realized the rear-facing speakers were difficult to hear while I was looking at the screen. Even at the highest volume setting, many YouTube or Netflix videos were barely audible.

I also wanted the tablet to be easier to hold and to stand upright on its own. So I designed a combination tablet stand, handle, and amplifier for my new tablet.

You do not necessarily need electronics to amplify sound. Acoustic amplifiers can direct sound waves and enhance volume solely due to their shape. Having seen some acoustic amplifiers for iPhones, I realized 3D printing could do the same for my tablet.

I started by using digital calipers to measure the thickness of the DragonTouch X10, the dimensions of its speakers, and the distance between the speakers and the edges of the tablet. I created a 3D model in Fusion 360 first by sketching the speaker’s shape and creating an offset. Then I created a few planes at different angles, and a loft between each plane to make a funnel that would direct sound toward the front of the tablet. I also made sure the handle would have a friction-fit around the sides of the tablet.

After adding the handles, Netflix and YouTube videos were loud and clear with volume to spare! Also, while having a few friends over, I was able to put on some music in the background.

Originally, I created these handles for desktop 3D printing, but I remixed them to be 3D printed in Shapeways Strong & Flexible Plastic.

The nylon would have a nicer surface finish and sturdiness than the ones I made on a desktop 3D printer, but the handles would cost more than that of the tablet itself. If I had designed these parts for Strong & Flexible plastic from the start, I would have integrated thinner walls and nested the parts as close together as possible in order to keep cost down.

If you’re using a tablet or smartphone, creators around the globe have designed 3D printed acoustic amplifiers available from Shapeways. Find one that fits your device.

About me
Adam Fasnacht is a Mechanical Engineer who grew up in northern Ohio. He considers himself a Maker since junior high, but found a passion for digital fabrication. He now spends his time tinkering with his own 3D printers and helping others learn about the technology.
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