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3D-printed speaker prototypes made by Xometry for Danley Sound Labs

Case Study: Danley Sound Labs Prototypes Products With Perfect Pitch Thanks to Xometry 3D-Printed Parts

Learn how this Georgia-based loudspeaker manufacturer is scaling up production and bringing its innovative products to market quickly, thanks to Xometry’s custom manufacturing services.

Tricia Contreras - Xometry Contributor
By Tricia Contreras
May 28, 2024
 6 min read
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IndustriesManufacturing Services UtilizedProject BriefSolution
Industries

Audio

Manufacturing Services Utilized

FDM 3D printing

SLA 3D printing

Project Brief

Danley Sound Labs needed to find a reliable way to prototype parts for its latest generation of loudspeakers. 

Solution

By turning to Xometry’s 3D printing service, Danley Sound Labs was able to source the first articles to test its new speakers. After successful tests using the 3D-printed parts from Xometry, Danley will use injection molding to mass-produce the parts. 

Music has the power to heighten our emotions and make us feel connected through sound – from the swelling score of a movie to the bumping baseline of a concert – and high-quality sound systems can turn music into a truly memorable experience. In 2005, Tom Danley and Mike Hedden set out to create a new kind of loudspeaker manufacturing company, intent on delivering stellar audio experiences. 

“Obviously, the industry is not exactly short on loudspeaker manufacturers, but innovative solutions are fairly few and far between, and [there are] a lot of copycat products,” said Skip Welch, head of sales and marketing for Danley Sound Labs.

Based in Gainesville, Georgia, the company makes equipment for a wide variety of uses, from home setups for audiophiles to sound systems for stadiums and houses of worship.

“Anywhere you want amazing sound experiences, we have solutions for that,” Welch said.

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“Obviously, the industry is not exactly short on loudspeaker manufacturers, but innovative solutions are fairly few and far between..."
Skip Welch,
Head of Sales and Marketing, Danley Sound Labs

For the Best Audio, Sometimes Less is More

Part of what sets Danley Sound Labs apart is the company’s ability to deliver rich sound with fewer speakers, according to Product Manager Clayton Hedden.

“One of the big differences between us and our competitors would be most everyone's making what we call a line array. If you've been to a concert, you'll see the big hangs of speakers, and there's a bunch of little boxes all together,” Hedden said. Danley primarily makes horns, which have all the sound coming from a single point. “So by the time audio gets to you, it's much cleaner. It stays together [over] longer distances,” he said.

A sound system setup that might call for dozens of speakers from another manufacturer can be completed with a fraction of the speakers from Danley, and using fewer speakers saves customers money and simplifies their cabling infrastructure. These streamlined systems are more efficient,  “so we're even greener than our competitors,” Hedden said.

To make the company’s next generation of loudspeakers, the Danley Sound Lab team needed to prototype its new horn design. A Google search for companies that could create custom 3D-printed parts with a quick turnaround led them to Xometry.

3D Printing Brings Danley’s New Prototype to Life

For the newest iteration of its GO2 8CX line of compact loudspeakers, Danley worked with Xometry to create a new shell for the speakers that would replace the previous design. The earlier version of the design used rotational molding to create the housing for the speaker, but with the existing tooling on its last leg, the team wanted to switch to an injection-molded shell. Switching to injection molding would allow Danley to create a rigid polycarbonate shell with tighter tolerances, at a lower cost than rotational molding.

Before investing in an injection molding tool, Danley wanted to test the new design using more economical 3D-printed prototypes. This strategy saved them money and allowed for tweaks in the design before scaling up.


The front of an SLA printed speaker prototype
The back of an SLA printed speaker prototype

Xometry used SLA 3D printing to make Danley Sound Labs' final protoype.

“As we've been designing this new shell, we've printed three different shells, and then using that, we've done the test fit,” Hedden said. “The first time we did it, when we tried to fit everything in there, we realized some spacing was off. So we move stuff around the next time…so we could get much closer to the final, actual injection molded part.” 

Hedden and his colleagues worked with their Xometry account manager and Xometry’s team of expert engineers to develop a strategy that would give them the most “bang for their buck,” he said. Xometry 3D-printed the first two prototypes using Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), and the third and final prototype used Stereolithography (SLA), which is an advanced 3D printing technology that produces extremely accurate and high-resolution parts. Using the more cost-effective FDM process for the earlier prototypes allowed Hedden and his team to tweak the design before moving on to the more expensive and detailed SLA version, which is extremely similar to the final injection molded part.

“We can actually put sound through the cabinet and use it like a normal product, which is really cool,” Hedden said.

Xometry Helps You Serve Your Customers Better

With Xometry, you have a full menu of manufacturing options to fabricate your next plastic or metal part. Our engineering team is always ready to help solve potential engineering challenges you encounter with any of our manufacturing processes. We can help guide you to the optimal design for your next project, combining parts from multiple processes together into fully realized products. 

If you need help understanding when and why to employ plastic 3D printing or injection molding, watch the recording of Xometry’s webinar, “Plastic 3D Printing vs. Injection Molding: Making the Best Choice," which highlights the practical applications, benefits, and limitations of additive manufacturing and injection molding and how these decisions guide the journey of a product's lifecycle - from initial conceptualization and design sensitivity to end-of-life repair and replacement considerations.


Rapid Prototyping Supports Mass Production at Scale

Partnering with Xometry has enabled Danley Sound Labs to punch above its weight when it comes to bringing products to market quickly, even at a large scale.

“We're too big to be considered a small company, but we're too small to be considered a big company,” Hedden said. “We're in these growing pains, and so part of my job is to help speed up the processes of new products.”


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(Credit: Danley Sound Labs)

The company’s product range includes several specialty products, and they also create custom solutions, taking ideas “from concept to final product in just a few months,” Hedden said. Working with Xometry has made the production process more efficient, and provided peace of mind when bringing new products to market. “We don't have to sit there and wonder, ‘okay, is this product going to work’?” Hedden said.

Xometry also empowers Danley to support other U.S. manufacturers, which is one of the company’s core values. 

“If we can do it in America, we're going to do it in America. And I really enjoy that,” Hedden said, noting the ability to pick from a selection of domestic and international manufacturers and make selections based on lead times.

Xometry offers several options so customers can strike the perfect balance between saving on costs and getting their parts delivered on time. For domestic orders, customers have up to three lead-time choices (expedite, standard, and economy).

Xometry Image
Xometry offers several lead-time options so you can choose the right one for your project.
“We do like supporting other American manufacturers, and I really appreciate the customer service..."
Clayton Hedden,
Product Manager, Danley Sound Labs

For Hedden and his team, being able to choose where their parts are made and the speed at which they receive them is music to their ears. “We do like supporting other American manufacturers, and I really appreciate the customer service,” he said “They are quick to respond and provide the answers that we're looking for.”

Tricia Contreras - Xometry Contributor
Tricia Contreras
Tricia is the Executive Editor at Thomas and Xometry.

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