Ask most audiophiles and they’ll tell you that loudspeakers work best when there is nothing in front of their mass to obscure the sonic delivery, but they’ll also tell you that grilles are a necessary evil, needed to protect the driver units from any mishap.
This is even more so in the automotive environment, where speaker components have to fight for acreage with other elements and design constraints in a limited space. The midrange driver usually ends up being placed on the lower front end of a door card, where it is most susceptible to a wrongly placed foot during ingress and egress. As such, grille covers serve to protect the unit from physical damage.
Generally, assemblies have their speaker grille incorporated as part of the door card, but more complex designs can need a novel approach in how they are crafted to ensure proper integration with the speaker enclosure. Such is the case with the McLaren Senna and the loudspeaker grille found on its door-mounted speaker enclosure.
The flush housing, which provides visual cover for a two-way speaker that is part of a seven-speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound system available as an option for the car, looks simple enough, but the manner in how it is attached to the rest of the enclosure – which houses a 25 mm diamond dome tweeter and 10 cm Kevlar cone midrange unit packaged in a pre-impregnated CF enclosure on each side – is novel, and patented. The particular highlight is that a Malaysian came up with the design.
The grille, which has a frame made up of carbon-fibre, eschews traditional fasteners and was conceptualised by Ruslin Tamsir. It has what its designer calls an invisible locking feature, which holds the grille in place securely without the need for fasteners.
Ruslin came up with the design when he was working in Garching, Germany as an engineering project leader at Harman Becker Automotive Systems. The patent for the grille design was filed in 2019 through the company and was finally published by the European Patent Office on October 21 last year.
In a Facebook post, the inventor said he was skeptical at the beginning that his invention would not even go through to the patent office. He said that due to the project’s quick timeline, he had about three months to develop the concept without utilising any fasteners.
Ruslin said he failed many times with the prototypes, and was at one point about to give up on the idea and start over by adopting the conventional approach. However, his persistence paid off, and a final design was eventually secured for validation and testing, and the patent is the reward of his hard work.
In his post, Ruslin, who is now back in Malaysia, said the message he was trying to convey was that one should never give-up and always push one’s self to the limit. “You will not succeed without trying and failing, and you will only be able to see your true potential after you succeed,” he wrote. Well done, Ruslin.
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