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Customization is at the heart of 3D printed hearing aids. This is a vital component because no two ear canals are the same; therefore, no two hearing aids should be the same. It has bypassed traditional manufacturing processes at lightning speed to smooth out any imperfections that may have been present before, with a comfort level that is top notch thanks to the advent of 3D printing and laser scanning. 3D printing has been in deployment for years in making custom fit hearing aids. Perhaps you would recognize its alternative name of additive manufacturing. Did you know that devices such as these can be created through the use of laser scanners?

So How Does it Work?

As 3D printing has been capturing more and more attention, the industry as a whole has been enjoying an increased precision of the process whereby products like hearing aids are built up instead of cut away with lathes. The reach of this technology extends to many industries, from manufacturing to jewelry to electronics. But when it comes to the development of custom hearing aids, its benefits are felt even more acutely. This revolutionary way of manufacturing device is of the utmost importance because it helps so many people to hear better. It also benefits the 35 million Americans suffering from hearing loss. Because everyone’s ears are unique, cookie-cutter hearing aids no longer represent a viable option when it comes to comfort.

The Process

Hearing aids, created via 3D printing for years, are now customized through this process to fit the unique ear shape of the individual. You will be glad to know that with 3D printing, your hearing aid fits you and only you, with an end result leading to a more improved fit and a higher comfort level for you that no one else has. Used in tandem with 3D laser scanning, it only takes a day to make a hearing aid in this way. The way it used to work was traditional manufacturing methods took workers days and weeks to tirelessly craft a hearing aid. While there are certainly different ways of doing things, variations on the technology used by different companies. It should only be performed by a skilled audiologist whose job it is to make a digital image of the ear. This doctor uses a laser scanner to create what’s known as a pointcloud. When finished scanning, a quality check is performed before the model can be constructed. A shell, or mold, is created through this amazing process, constructed of a very flexible material called resin. This allows for the addition of the proper acoustic vents, electronics and other components that make up the inner workings of the device. Digital cameras facilitate the use of 150,000 points of reference that put the template to the mold. At the same time, many geometric patterns and combinations undergo testing before printing the final shell, leading to a superior product that is so efficient and high in quality that the individual will benefit immensely. Once printed out, circuitry is added to the shell, which is a blueprint to projection of the actual sound. Today, you’ll find more than 10 million 3D printed hearing devices around the world.