This has been by far one of my favorite projects to work on and so i'd like to share with you my process for making these inspired speakers!
The nautilus represents the very top of perfect audio in terms of sound and beautiful aesthetic and although I could never really compete with the original, here is my own take on it!
Please don't forget to vote for me in the audio contest and also check out my other work here on Instructables and on my website at Makealittlemore .
Step 1: Inspiration
These speakers were of course inspired by the great Nautilus Speakers from Bowers & Wilkins which I have always loved and drawn inspiration from in past projects.
I came across a few articles and a Thingiverse post about a 3D printable remix of the famous nautilus speaker. I decided that this would be my opportunity to make my own twist on the concept and produce a pair for myself. My idea was to better represent the natural shape and beauty of the nautilus shape and bring it back to a more natural look.
This project is an amalgamation of all of my fabrication skills utilising hand work along with CNC machinery and this also helped me with the creative inspiration as I was able to think of new and different ways of producing certain parts.
Step 2: Tools Used
The main tools used in this project were my digital fabrication machines which include my Shapeoko 3 and my Prusa i3 MK2-X.
The Shapeoko 3 is a capable CNC router made by Carbide 3D and is my workhorse in the workshop cutting everything from MDF through to acrylic and even aluminium and brass. It allows me to turn ideas into designs quickly, much quicker than 3D printing.
My Prusa i3 MK2-X is a modified printer from Prusa3D that has been modified with a rigid aluminium profile frame and produces excellent, reliable prints. This was the main tool used in the project as the entire body of the speakers was printed.
I use cheap filament off Amazon, mainly from AMZ3D which produce very cheap filament that I have found to be fairly reliable!
Step 3: Design: 3D Printed Parts
I downloaded the parts from Thingiverse and inspected them thoroughly. This print was going to use a lot of material and so I wanted to make sure it worked first time!
There were a few issues with the parts so I fixed them and scaled up and smoothed over some bits to make the shape a bit better. To do this I used Meshmixer as it is a powerful tool that allows you to edit STL files directly unlike with Fusion 360 where they must be converted to a T-Spline for editing. I won't go into too much detail on that as I intend to do tutorials on this in the future!
I have attached my repaired files, the differences are subtle but should increase print quality and part fit.
I intended to use Dayton Audio Reference 4" woofers for this build as they were the right size to allow a nice ring to go around the woofer and fit onto the printed parts nicely. For this I had to modify the hole pattern slightly to work better.
The parts when then processed through Slic3r to be printed on my Original Prusa i3 MK2. The total printing time took about 36 hours which consumed about 1.5 kg of filament due to a high infill being used to aid with acoustics.
Step 4: Design: Aesthetic
As I mentioned earlier I was keen for a very natural look to the speakers so wanted to avoid the smooth high gloss finish that the original nautilus speakers had. I had seen that some people had used wood-fill filament to print the part which looked interesting but didn't really match the aesthetic of the 'shell' but I liked the idea of using some oak in the design to aid the natural look.
My idea in the end was to use a stone effect spray that kind of resembles a rough granite look and has 3d texture which really makes a nice effect. The addition of wood will also complement the design I had in mind for the speaker spikes that support the speaker.
Step 5: Design: Speaker Spikes
In researching speaker spikes to buy they seemed to be pretty dull and ugly so the obvious option was to make my own.
My idea was to use some long bolts that I could sharpen to a point and the add a little oak sleave that I could machine on my CNC.
Step 6: Printing + Finishing
After the long printing time the parts were ready to be finished. I decided to keep the printing lines as I think they really add to the texture of the finished item and highlight the curve and spiral pattern.
The 3 parts for each speaker were joined with epoxy and then filled using regular wood filler and sanded smooth around the edge.
I used a special plastic etch primer in grey to give a nice layer for the stone spray to adhere too and it also acts as the base colour for the stone effect.
After a few coats for primer and some more sanding, I applied a few coats of the stone spray allowing it to dry for a few hours between coats.
Step 7: Making Speaker Spikes
Cam for these parts was simple and I used a block of endgrain oak so I could machine a scalop down to produce the conical shape. Boring the central hole was tricky due to the thin top part of the cone.
Once the parts were machined, I cut the ends off the bolts and sharpened them on the belt sander. The sides were scored with a file to allow the glue to hold the wood parts on better.
After the parts were glued together with epoxy I sanded everything smooth by hand. The use of the bolts makes attachment to the main body of the speaker easy and they can be replaced if needed.
The fit was then tested on the speakers to ensure a snug fit and they stand correctly.
Step 8: Speaker Faces
Again this was a simple part to CAM although the only oak I have is 20mm and I have no thickness planer to bring the material down to 10mm which is what I designed to keep the oak ring more subtle. It would have stuch out quite oddly if I had used 20mm thickness for the speaker ring.
To overcome this I simply pocketed a large area of the material down to 10mm before cutting the rest of the shape out.
Some sanding and a clear coat of lacquer and the part was done!
Step 9: Sound Quality
I haven't really focused on audio quality as I am more keen at the moment to focus on design. I have learnt a lot from feedback on previous projects from the community about how to produce a better sound and this is something to focus on more in the future.
Some stuffing was added to the speakers which has certainly improved the sound quality but the large volume doesn't complement the drivers very well and it is noticeable.
I hope to add some sound samples to this instructable soon!
Step 10: Finished Product + Improvements
I am actually surprised with myself as to how well this project turned out. From the outset I was keen to be meticulous and pay more attention to the details and it seems to have paid off. This definitely paves a way from my future projects as I can build on my improved attention to detail to produce more refined and clean projects.
If I were to do this project again (I have had a few requests from people to buy a pair of these speakers!) I might experiment with an aluminium or brass ring around the speaker instead of oak. I like the natural look of the oak but it would be cool to add a nice juxtaposition with some polished metal in the design.
Audio quality needs to play a greater role in the design, I did no calculations and this has definitely harmed the acoustics. A bigger driver with perhaps an integrated tweeter and some determination on how big to make the internal volume would produce a better sound.
I would also like to attempt to make a bigger version but this would require me to outsource the printing as this was the biggest size I could print with my printer!
As mentioned before, if you liked this project please check out my other work here on Instructables and at my website: makealittlemore.com
Thank you for reading :)
Grand Prize in the
Audio Contest 2018