Final Project Reflection- Team Synergy

Hello everyone! We are team Synergy. We had a great time this semester working, creating and talking with you all! When deciding on our final project, we had a little trouble. Our first idea of creating a solar powered coffee/tea heater fell through. When in the prototyping stage, e realized that this project wasn’t feasible. Although this was a huge step backwards, we gathered together and decided upon a simple, yet effective design. Airpods are becoming increasingly popular. How can we find a way to keep the pods in the user’s ears even when doing intense physical activity? In addition to this, we wanted to find a way to get more students involved in the making process and 3D printing. If there is anything we learned from this course, it is that 3D printing is on the up and coming and will be very useful and important in businesses in the near future. Therefore, we thought it was important for students to learn the basics of 3D printing to further them in their careers. Our final project of “iClips” allows students to make a customizable headphone clip to fit snug on their ears, allowing them to use Apple Airpods to work out and do any physical activity they would like.  

Designing the iClip was not as simple as you would think. Thankfully, our friends at the Fablab helped us out a lot. They explained the process of splining and sweeping which was the basis of our project. After a lot of tinkering and perfecting was required, but eventually we made our design!


Then, the prototyping process began. We received many useful insights from test subjects during the prototype testing phase. We asked two college of business students and one alum for their thoughts on our initial design. The first respondent, Tanmay, was enthusiastic about the product. He felt that the fit was comfortable and sturdy. He did, however, suggest that the product be modified to clip onto other types of earphones, since he was not an iPhone user himself.



The second respondent, Christina, exercises frequently and was also very excited about the product. While she mainly uses over the ear headphones in the gym, she said that she could see how others might find the product very useful. The product did not provide a comfortable fit over her ear, because it was too large but she said she’d be willing to use it if it came in a smaller size. When asked how much she would be willing to pay for a custom-fitted set, she said she’d pay up to $15.

The third respondent, Elsie, had a difficult time figuring out how to wear the ear clips. She said it was a bit confusing to figure out by herself, and suggested providing some sort of illustration to show people how to put on the ear clips correctly. Once she was able to position the ear clips, she thought they were quite comfortable. In order to improve the design, she suggested making sure that the material was sweat resistant, particularly for those who use the ear clips while exercising.

Next Steps

Based off of the feedback we received, we wanted to continue focusing on creating different sizes based on each user’s ear, and on creating a universal clip. We relied on a mobile application called Ruler to try and see if there was a way that people could take measurements of their ears through a photograph. That way, users could send us their measurements and we could determine the size of the ear clip best suited for them.

We found the app to be quite precise in its measurements, which were taken by the user holding up a quarter next to the object they wanted to measure (in this case, their ear.) These photos demonstrate some of the ear measurements of users using the Ruler app:

However, after gathering more test subjects, we found that there wasn’t enough variation in ear sizes to justify creating multiple sized ear clips. Instead, we found that some test subjects prefered a more flexible fit, while others wanted a firmer grip. We were able to create a range of fits by adjusting the infill amount while printing our base ear clip design. We finally selected three infills– 20%, 30%, and 40% and gave test subjects each clip to try. Those who preferred a loose fit liked the 20% clips, while others preferred the 40% clips.

Had we had more time, we would have liked to print our prototype using a natural flexible PLA instead of the regular PLA material we used. This material would’ve not only provided more comfort, but would probably have also been more sweat resistant, to Elsie’s point. We would have also liked to perfect the universal ear clip–however, we found that our design worked well on both Apple earphones and airpods, which was our original intent.  

All in all, we felt grateful for having had the experience of ideating, designing, and testing our prototype, with so many helpful resources at our disposal. We had changed our project idea halfway through this course, so while it was difficult to catch up with the other groups, we were proud of our end product, despite its shortcomings. Our takeaways were:

  • A design is important, even if it solves just one person’s problem
    • While our ear clip design wasn’t nearly as complex as our original solar-powered hot plate idea, it still solved a problem and that was something to be proud of.
  • Design is an iterative process
    • As told throughout this course by multiple guest lecturers, the prototype testing process turned out to be the most useful and necessary step towards creating a better product.
  • Marketing your idea is just as important as designing a good product
    • We wanted this product to be centered around the idea of bringing students into the MakerLab. As seniors who had minimal interaction with the maker community during our 4 years on campus, we felt incentivized to inform unaware students of the resources available to them. Given the simplicity of our ear clip design, we felt that students would be excited to either design or print their own in the future.

Here is the link to our final presentation! Enjoy!

One thought on “Final Project Reflection- Team Synergy”

  1. Hey Team Synergy,

    It was awesome to hear how despite your original project design may have not been feasible, you guys were able to pivot rather quickly and get into a new design. I really thought your AirPods were a beautiful design. They were simple externally but intuitive and effective. I thought it was interesting how during your presentation, the class agreed that if this was sold as an Apple accessory, it would immediately become popular. Regardless, I think your simplistic yet functional design was a great semester project. Best of luck in all your future making!


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