6 ways you can use 3-D printers

Small business owners are able to bring new, innovative products to market faster and cheaper thanks to 3-D printers.

Design advanced technology

small business 3d printers mrspeakers

Dan Clark makes high-end headphones that can't be manufactured using conventional technology. To improve sound quality, he created an intricate design with such detailed parts they have to be made individually. So MrSpeakers' San Diego headquarters has 10 printers running at a time, all printing actual parts used in its Alpha Dog headphones.

Clark launched MrSpeakers in April 2012 with the Mad Dog headphones, which are manufactured using conventional technology. But with his next product, Clark, an electrical engineer, wanted to try something different. He bought 10 printers at about $1,600 each and started making the Alpha Dogs earlier this year.

It takes about 13 hours to print each headphone set, and Clark and his team of five put each through a finishing process that includes sand and chemical treatments. The extra time is worth it: Clark charges $600 for each set of headphones.

"We have a higher price point, so we can put the labor in to make it beautiful," he said. "And the technical advantage is so great, it's worth going through the effort."

  @KatieLobosco - Last updated December 10 2013 08:37 AM ET
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