Mobile Phone Accessory: Earbud Holder

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Think like a designer and invent a new earbud holder.

Mobile phone accessories are meant to make your phone stand out in a crowd, but a lot of mass-produced accessories look alike. If everyone has the same white earbuds, how can you be sure you don’t accidentally end up wearing your friend’s earbuds? With this product design challenge, you can create an earbud holder customized with your name and your favorite color—and you can show your friends how to make their own with 3D printing.


In this class project, you’ll learn skills that designers and makers like Peter Eggington use every day at work: researching target audience needs, sketching 3D models, customizing design features, and presenting a 3D prototype for a mobile phone accessory ready for 3D printing or manufacturing. With creativity and critical thinking, you will make a custom earbud holder that adds personality to personal technology.

Inspire others and share your earbud holder design on the Autodesk Digital Steam Workshop.

Project Brief
It’s all about the tools and the process!
“Design thinking” linked to the development of a customized mobile phone accessory starts by formulating
and answering some key questions:
• Where will the mobile phone accessory be used?
• What type of activities will people be engaged in while using the mobile phone accessory?
• How much time in a day would a person be using the mobile phone accessory?
• Will this accessory accommodate multiple types and brands of earbuds?
• Will this accessory be sold as an after-market product or comes as part of the original packaging?
• Where will the mobile phone accessory be stored when not in use?
• What are the potential problems related to damage to the mobile phone accessory?
• What materials should be used to make the mobile phone accessory?
• What is your budget for the entire project?
• What is your schedule for completion?
• What inspires you most about this project?

For the mobile phone accessory project the first task is to develop basic skills in using Autodesk® 123D
Design® software to develop concepts as part of the Design Thinking ideation stage. After completing
the sample mobile phone accessory students are encouraged to develop their own designs and apply their
knowledge of the software to generate multiple concepts for alternative designs. The bottom line is this: If
students can expand and enhance their ability to combine the innovation capabilities of the software and
the power of the design thinking process, then the goals of this curriculum have been achieved.

Design considerations used in the example project are as follows:
• Purpose: To design a mobile phone accessory
• Target audience: Multiple
• Size limitations: to accommodate standards size earbuds.
• Materials to be used: plastic
• Scheduling requirements: 1 to 5 hours to complete the sample project

This project demonstrates the following concepts:

• User-centered research helps engineers and designers establish a solid foundation for the development of effective design solutions.
• Developing a profile of the intended user(s) of a product or service is essential to establishing the needed criteria to guide successful development.
• The proliferation of consumer products, particularly in the tech and fashion sectors, creates opportunities for new product
entries in the area of accessories that offer consumer personalization, increased product longevity, and enhanced performance.
• New automated design and manufacturing technologies allow for the low-volume production of products that meet
specific criteria for individual users. This emerging trend is referred to as mass customization.
• Engineers and designers use a variety of tools and techniques ranging from freehand pencil sketches to sophisticated digital
modeling to explore ideas and communicate concepts and technical directions to
• Parametric modeling software, such as Autodesk® Inventor®, has dramatically
streamlined the process of product development from the identification of user needs to the production and distribution of finished goods.
• The design thinking process is a work-flow path that promotes the development of a design.
• Low cost rapid prototyping technologies such as laser cutting and 3D printing have streamlined the product development

After completing this lesson, students will be able to demonstrate growth in the following areas:

Process Skills and Knowledge
• Use the design thinking process to successfully create a physical prototype.
• Explain how 2D sketches and digitalmodels can be used as visualization tools for design ideation.
• Create a user profile of the intended consumer base in order to aid in design of a new product alternative.
• Explain the basic principles of user-centered research.
• Explain the significance of 2D and 3D visualization for the development of designs from concepts to finished production
• Explain how writing, data acquisition and data analysis competencies are employed in the development of a product.
• Explain the role that material science plays in achieving the functional and aesthetic goals for a consumer product
development project such as a mobile phone accessory.
• Explain the role of environmental sustainability practices in a product development project.
• Explain the essential aspects of mass customization practices.