This Startup Prints Earbuds For The Specific Shape Of Your Ears

Normal is using 3D-printing to put an end to uncomfortable, one-size-fits-all earphones.


The designer:

Nikki Kaufman: Kaufman learned about 3-D printing while at Quirky, a startup that crowdsources product ideas. Inspired by her subpar earphone experiences–and the promise of endless customization that 3-D printing offered–she started Normal.


Philosophy: “I love good, functional products that let the world in on the design process.”

Inspiration: “As a swimmer in high school, I would listen to Moby before races to concentrate. I still get into ‘race mode’ when I hear him.”

The design:

Normal Earbuds: Most earbuds are uncomfortable and don’t fit snugly. Normal replaces awkwardly shaped speaker housings with 3-D–printed forms of soft plastic tailored for anyone’s ear.

Significance: Before, personalized earphones meant irksome molding, high cost, and a long wait. Now you can get one-of-a-kind buds in two days.

Process: Customers snap photos of both ears using Normal’s app, which converts them into renderings. Printers then make individually sized buds. Within hours, the
Normals are on their way.

From $199,

About the author

Skylar is an Editorial Assistant at Fast Company. He's previously written for Popular Mechanics, Esquire, Dwell and his hometown Chicagoland suburb newspaper