Earphones: The Holy Grail for 3-D Printing?

Custom 3D printed earphone company Normal will on Saturday open a retail location in Manhattan, where consumers will be able to see the entire manufacturing process from printing to packing.

Traditionally a custom-built mold of your ear would involve a trip to the doctor, but Normal is trying to leverage 3D printing for mass customization by allowing users to take a picture of their ear with a coin for size reference and upload it to their app.


For consumers who want a more experiential retail experience, they can come in person to have their ears photographed starting Aug. 9. The company stresses taking a picture of both the right and left because even a single person's ears can slightly vary in important ways.

Once the photos are uploaded, the earphones can be customized for cord length, color and accent colors on the hardware which will then be personalized and shipped in 48 hours. The earphones are priced at $199 and the company uses Stratasys Fortus 250mc printers to print them.

Normal 3-D Printed Earphones

"I want to stress that the cool thing about Normal is that it's our store, factory and headquarters" says CEO Nikki Kaufman "We have ten printers here now, you can see that the retail floor is built very modular so we can swap out displays and pop in a printer."

—By CNBC's Deborah Findling