The process of 3D printing may be foreign to you, especially when you think of it in the context of an item like a hearing aid. But with most hearing aids made via 3D printing in the United States today, you’ll realize that this technology has really taken off. Because 35 million people in this country suffer from hearing impairments, it’s necessary to ensure each person receives a hearing aid that fits properly. Right now, about 10 million 3D printed hearing devices are in circulation, so if you’re wearing a hearing device, it was likely created using this method. This burgeoning technology is only growing more. It’s also called additive manufacturing, meaning that layer upon layer is added rather than stripped away.
Benefits of 3D Printed Hearing Aids
Of all the many advantages to using 3D printed hearing aids, the ability to customize the product specifically to one person’s ear is probably the biggest benefit. This is important because all ears are different in small ways. If you used traditional manufacturing processes, it would be hard to achieve a perfect fit for every person. Consequently, technology represents a big effect on the hearing impaired and medical communities as a whole. This formerly work-intensive process is now an automated, more efficient one that takes a fraction of the time and offers practicality at its core.
Why it’s so Important
In a world dominated by technology, it becomes necessary to apply that knowledge to devices like hearing aids. With 35 million people suffering from hearing loss, this boom in technology has never-ending benefits for the hearing impaired community. Utilized in partnership with 3D laser scanning, the process of creating a hearing aid just takes less than a day to complete. Audiologists are the professionals responsible for creating a pointcloud, which is really just a digital image of the ear using a laser scanner. Once that’s done and the hearing instrument specialist has gone through a quality check, she can construct the model to produce a shell or mold of the hearing aid, which is constructed out of resin that can be fitted with acoustic vents, essential electronics and circuitry that help the device synchronize sound. other components. An awesome 150,000 points of reference are used in the process due to digital cameras that apply these findings to the template and mold. Before final printing, several geometric patterns and combinations are tested to come up with a superior product in terms of efficiency and quality.