3D Printing An EEG Headset

The second "rainy day" project I worked on over the 2016 Christmas break involved using my 3D printer and an open source design to manufacture an EEG headset. (The first such rainy day project was building our website.)

I wanted to make my own OpenBCI EEG headset so that I can finally test my hypothesis on a connection between the Enneagram theory of personality and the brain.

In a blog that I posted a year ago, I wrote: "Next week, I will be buying a 3D printer. The first thing I will print is an EEG headset designed by OpenBCI."

Back when I wrote that, my intention was to begin printing the headset within a few weeks. But life happens and, instead, almost a full year passed before I completed the headset.

I'm an optimist. So if there is something that I want to do, I generally figure it out and do it. That usually works well for me. However, I'm not the most handy guy when it comes to building stuff by hand or getting a machine to work. Instead, I'm much better working with my mind (e.g. theory, etc.). I was raised that way.

So, when our 3D printer arrived a year ago (a Makergear M2), I immediately tried printing the first parts of the headset. But I just couldn't get it to work. The parts wouldn't stick to the plate during printing. Failure to stick ruins the print jobs.

I realized then that I would need several undisturbed, totally focused days of trial and error to get the thing working properly. I needed full immersion. No interruptions or distractions. In other words, I needed a vacation from Life.

That vacation didn't come until the last two weeks of December 2016 — when everything was quiet in my life. Having spent those days around Christmas with my printer, I now, more or less, know what I'm doing.

Stepping back, I see 3D printing as the future of manufacturing. It'll enable an home-based revolution in self-sufficiency. There'll be a printer in most homes.

In our home, the first thing my child printed was a unicorn. It is exciting to know that my child is getting in on the ground floor of a new and very practical technology.

In 2016, my printer cost almost $2K, and it takes an expert touch to get it to work. There's no safety-covering for the extremely hot extruder — I had to caution my child not to touch it.

So currently, 3D printing is not ready for the mass market. But it seems inevitable that in a few years, when my child will probably be in college, a one-touch, powerful, and safe 3D printer will cost O($200) on Amazon. And instead of unicorns, we'll be printing sports cars.