The main advantage to 3D printing, as you’ll learn, is customization and precision. Due to this emerging scientific breakthrough, 3D printing has been trying to increase the precision of the process. This up and coming component of the additive manufacturing industry is awing the medical community, as never before have hearing aids been so comfortable and precise. This method can help people everywhere to hear better and feel more comfortable at the same time, especially when you consider that a total of 35 million Americans have a hearing impairment. They certainly deserve a more comfortable fit through a unique hearing aid that addresses their needs. Accuracy, speed, efficiency and customization are all positive by-products of this 3D printing approach to the manufacture of hearing aids. Before this came about, the process was very time consuming and the result was poor fit due to the inconsistencies between the shapes of individuals’ ears. Today, audiologists make it possible to develop a single hearing aid in a few intense hours.
3D Printing has Changed the Industry
In the event you have never heard the term 3D printing, you most likely didn’t think it connected in any way to hearing aids. Actually, it does. The making of state of the art portable amplifiers is made conceivable through the utilization of 3D printing. In spite of the fact that it’s nothing new, its still a process that changes the industry due to the accuracy and simplicity of assembling it encourages. 3D printing has an alternate name: added additive manufacturing, which alludes to the procedure of adding to something to develop it instead of cutting layers away. Additive manufacturing brings about a noticeable improvement on the fit and guarantees the largest amount of comfort for the individual. Actually, 10 million 3D printed hearing aids are on the market currently.
Hearing aids have been made via 3D printing for years, so the technology isn’t anything totally new. The customized process makes it possible to fit the unique ear shape of the individual, as cookie-cutter hearing aids no longer represent a viable option in terms of comfort. You will be happy 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. Before, traditional manufacturing methods took workers days and weeks to tirelessly craft prior to this technology break-through. While there are definitely variations on the technology used by different companies, the basic premise is the same across the board. Performed only by a skilled audiologist whose job it is to make a digital image of the ear, he or she uses a laser scanner to create a blueprint, or pointcloud. When finished scanning, a quality check is done before the model can actually be constructed. What comes out of the printer? A shell or mold of the hearing aid, made of a very flexible material called resin, allowing 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, and voila! A perfect hearing aid.