A loudspeaker playing a clip of President Barack Obama talking about 3-D printing in his State of the Union speech might not seem so remarkable—except that the loudspeaker represents one of the first 3-D printed consumer electronic devices in the world.

The 3-D printed loudspeaker is more expensive, took longer to make, and is of a lower quality than a typical mass-produced speaker, said Hod Lipson, an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Cornell University. But he described his lab’s demonstration to IEEE Spectrum as providing a “glimpse of the future” by showing that 3-D printing technology can eventually create all the necessary components of electronic devices:

“The real challenge is one of material science: Can we make a series of inks that can serve as conductors, semiconductors, sensors, actuators, and power. These inks have to have good performance and be mutually compatible. We’re not there yet, but I think its well…

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