Teenage Engineering made a name for themselves with the OP-1 in 2011, a widely popular synthesizer, sampler and sequencer for music production. But when they had issues making and shipping product parts due to existing inefficient shipping systems for small-sized items, they came up with an ingenious solution — the company released CAD files onto Shapeways, so users can 3D print their own customized accessories for their instruments.
The Swedish company was the first electronics manufacturer to post replacement parts as downloadable 3D printed files for consumers. Not only does this eliminate the need for a warehouse and distributing costs, it also paves way for user customization. As music production tools serve to ultimately uphold creativity, this increases creative opportunities while lowering the cost for consumers to modify and manufacture their own unique instruments. Teenage Engineering’s move enables users to modify their synths on the fly — musicians can be in a session, encounter a problem or be inspired to create a new tool, print the hardware, and continue their music making in a matter of hours.
Now, the Swedish company has a new line of affordable synthesizers: the Pocket Operators priced at EUR 69 each. Compared to the OP-1 (priced at USD 849), these low cost devices are stripped back, with an exposed printed circuit board making up the majority of its body. There are 23 buttons, signified by symbols due to the lack of space. And again, the company released precise measurements and CAD files, so users can custom print their own extensions for these modules. One user created a case where the buttons are larger and easier to manipulate.
Could this become the norm for all electronic devices?