Mar 4, 2017 | By Julia

In the past several years, researchers have found increasing uses for 3D printing and 3D scanning technology in the fields of medicine and science. 3D printed prosthetics, orthotics, and even test organs are but a few of the many new innovations emerging in doctors’ novel uses of additive manufacturing.

As the population ages, these developments become more and more essential, signifying a trend that may be here to stay. Such is the background behind the new surge in 3D printed hearing aids and inner-ear devices.

a 3D printed hearing aid by Phonak

Recently, Phonak, a major hearing aid brand, has once again partnered with a 3D printing company to launch new Virto™ B–Titanium, an all-new custom hearing aid that utilizes a 3D printed titanium shell. 

Titanium is a super strong, durable, and light-weight material. Custom hearing aid shells have traditionally been made using acrylic material, but titanium allows for shells that are 50% thinner than typical acrylic shells — as thin as 0.2 mm. With Virto B-Titanium, Phonak combines the benefits of titanium with the latest 3D printing technology. This results in the smallest custom device it has ever produced, says Phonak.


Due to the thinner shell and smaller electronics, Phonak says that the new Virto B-Titanium devices are approximately 26% smaller than its predecessor. Furthermore, the company says Invisible In the Canal (IIC) hearing aid fit rates have been increased by 64%. This enables the tiny device to potentially fit patients with smaller ear canals who were not good candidates for IIC devices in the past. Virto B-Titanium is also said to be very robust, having achieved an IP68 rating for resistance to both water and dust.

In an official statement, Phonak Custom Products representative Nik Schulz confirmed that Phonak has successfully employed 3D printing technology in the production of 98% of their hearing aids globally. As Phonak representatives boast, 3D printed hearing devices are “the closest thing you get to having your hearing back.” Competitors will certainly have their work cut out for them.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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