Widex, a prominent Danish-based hearing aid manufacturer, was recently featured on CNN International in the TV station´s new series "Make, Create, Innovate", which goes behind some of today's ground-breaking inventions.
Three scientists from Widex A/S, Jan Tøpholm, Søren Westermann, and Svend Vitting Andersen were announced as winners of the sixth annual European Inventor Awards. Presented by the European Patent Office, these prestigious honors recognize outstanding inventors for their contributions to social, economic, and technological progress.
The subject of the feature was CAMISHA, which means "Computer-Aided-Manufacturing-for-Individual-Shells-for-Hearing-Aids" – a sophisticated method of manufacturing individual hearing aid shells.
Using 3D printing Widex was the first company to produce some of the world's smallest, most comfortable hearing aids, that fits perfectly in each individual ear canal.
How does CAMISHA work?
CAMISHA injects impression material (liquid silicone) in the ear to create an impression of the hearing aid user's ear canal. It is then scanned into a computer program and the information is converted into a 3D image. An ear mold is then modelled so it fits exactly the inside of a patient's ear. The data is transferred to the 3D printer and a powerful laser is used to build the shell or ear mold in photo-acrylic gel layer by layer. Each layer is only 0.1mm thick.
(Images credit: Widex)
Finally, the microcircuitry, consisting of a microphone, a receiver, a battery, and an almost microscopic computer chip, are inserted into the plastic shell.
The CAMISHA process allow more sound to be collected naturally by the shape of the ear. Normally background noise is absolutely a problem for all of us, especially for hearing aid users. But with this hearing aid and a remote, you can control you entire soundscape at home.
Pump up the volume and the sound could come directly into your earpiece. It's the same with the stereo. The music comes directly into your ear, nothing else.
However, the premium sound and comfort comes at a premium price. While you can get a conventional hearing aid for a few hundred dollars, the CAMISHA produced models range from about $1,000-$3,000 per device.
Today, the CAMISHA process is used throughout the hearing industry for 95 percent of all custom hearing aids, and over its lifetime, the patent has been worth more than 10 million Euros to Widex.
More and more of us are going to suffer hearing loss. We're living longer, we tend to listen to music more often and more loudly; it's just as well that hearing aid technology is advancing so dramatically.
Posted in 3D Printing Applications
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Allison wrote at 5/8/2013 5:39:48 PM:
Great article. It's amazing what 3D printing can do. Here's another post about 3D printing and hearing aids: http://www.audicus.com/blogs/hearing-aids-blog/7800525-3d-print-your-future-hearing-aids