Popular synthesizer manufacturer wants you to print out your own replacement knobs

OP-1 synthesizer manufacturer Teenage Engineering doesn't want to ship you replacement knobs and buttons for your instrument. Instead, they've uploaded printable shapefiles to Shapeways and have asked their customers to simply download them and print them on a nearby 3D printer as needed. This appears to be the first time a manufacturer has taken such a step, according to a Shapeways blog-post. Here's the official statement from Teenage Engineering:

We work hard to make our OP-1 users happy with free OS updates and added functionality. But sometimes we fail. As some have noted, the shipping cost of the OP-1 accessories is very high. This is because we can't find a good delivery service for small items. Meanwhile, we have decided to put all CAD files of the parts in our library section for you to download. The files are provided in both STEP and STL format. Just download the files and 3D print as many as you want. Next fail is the OP-1 manual update. We are almost there...we promise it will be ready sometime next week. Thank you all for your patience, we promise to work even harder in the future to make you happy.

Embracing 3-D Printers, Manufacturer Tells Customers to Print Their Own Replacement Parts


  1. this is a nitpick, but technically these aren’t “replacement” parts per se, rather they’re optional add-on accessories that provide additional tactile functionality to the OP-1 synth. they sort of work like Lego.

    1. Yes, they’ll never become common!  Ever!

      Just like the fax machine never became common. Or those newfangled horseless carriage thingamabobs.

    2. Sorry, that was mean.  I think my perception that you were unable to imagine a future where 3d printers are ubiquitous made me scared for the future, and therefore angry, making me lash out.


    3. You mean priced at a rate that makes sense for the average person (NOT A HOBBYIST) to buy them for situations like this, right now. At this moment. Not in the future. Now.  

    4. 3D printers may become common in another sense.  Remember before laser and inkjet printers?  Printing presses were too expensive for everyone to have one.  Copiers were affordable for offices, but not economical for large runs.  For those there were local print shops.  Even in a small town you might go to a print shop to get something typeset and printed in volume.  Or even in not so much volume.

      As 3D printers become more affordable, before they are in every home, might we see them appear as the main function of a local business that can 3D print anything you can bring in on a flash drive?  Everyone could have the blessings of one-off 3D high quality 3D printing and reasonable prices.  The business would get the scale of volume.  Like the old print shop days.  Or in present day, think of it is a “kinkos” for 3D printing.

      Now we just need the standardization and wide availability of easy to use software to generate printable designs, standardization of file formats, etc.

  2. Really, no “good delivery service for small items”?  How much does one of those bits and pieces weigh?  Half an ounce?  Can’t they get a small padded envelope and just drop it in the mail?

    1. Teenage Engineering is Stockholm based, so its international for a huge chunk of their clientele which is a bag of headaches. They would most chances need local distributors (like maybe amazon, or something more boutque) for it to make sense

      1.  International shipping and handling is, indeed, a bag of headaches.  This is a great step in the right direction.

  3. Go find out what it costs to send a bit or bob in a padded envelope, priority mail, across the US. I just sent three sheets of cardboard from USA East coast to Western US for $7.00. That’s ridiculous. Even if I’d been smart enough to use priority flat rate, that’s $5.15. Add to that your cost of bubble wrap and travel to the USPO, and it just isn’t worth it, and the customer doesn’t want to pay what it really costs, either.

  4. I’ve owned a number of synths, and can count on zero hands the number of replacement plastic bits for knobs that I’ve needed.

    The #1 thing that goes wrong with audio hardware is cables getting wonky, and the #2 thing is jacks getting wonky.

  5. Instead of popular I think “divisive” would be a better description of Teenage Engineering. Nothing guarantees hate posts on a synth nerd site like news from TE. Hipster toys etc.

    This one didn’t as its so clearly a great idea. I just dropped 90 yoyos on a plastic shelf for my fridge that they shipped from Korea.

    And while it’s true the printers are not common yet, more people doing this would open up a market for high street print shops. At least until they become common.

    1. If synth nerd logic was applied to cooking we’d all be eating 45yr old meals :) 

      This one though, as you said, is like gasoline on a fire. I observe from a distance on some synth nerd sites and TE talk just goes south… fast

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