Sep 7, 2016 | By Benedict

Earlens Corporation Inc., a Silicone Valley-based medical technology company, is using 3D printing technology to improve design flexibility and support faster time-to-market. The company’s unique hearing aid uses non-visible light to create a natural, rich sound.

Since becoming a mainstream technology, 3D printing has been used to create all sorts of medical devices, from cranial implants to surgical tools, helping patients get through a multitude of problems. Now, thanks to an exciting new product from Earlens, additive manufacturing is giving the hard-of-hearing something to shout about too. The Silicone Valley-based medical device company has created the Earlens Hearing Aid, the only product of its type that uses light to activate a wearer’s natural hearing system, purportedly resulting in a clear, natural, and rich sound.

The partially 3D printed Earlens Hearing Aid consists of three major parts: a photon processor, light tip, and the lens. The small custom-fit lens is placed into the wearer’s ear by an ear, nose, and throat physician, and sits in the eardrum like a contact lens does on the eye—with surface tension. The microphone of the photon processor, which is worn around the ear, picks up sound and communicates the sound information to the light tip, which converts the sound into non-visible light. When these light signals reach the lens placed on eardrum, the wearer’s natural hearing system is activated, leading to a richer, more complete hearing experience.

Top-bottom: the Earlens processor & light tip, lens, and charger

Earlens today announced that it will implement a new Manufacturing Execution System (MES) using Solumina software from iBASEt, a move that will help the medical device company continue to innovate with 3D printing technology. While 3D printing offers numerous design and production advantages, its use in the medical sector is still subject to strict rules and regulations. Fortunately, iBASEt is a specialist in providing software solutions in highly regulated industries like aerospace and defense, nuclear, and medical, so use of its Solumina software will help Earlens to implement 3D printing safely, legally, and effectively.

Solumina will be installed at the Earlens corporate HQ in Menlo Park, California, where it will be used to manage production, including all areas of 3D printing. According to a press release, additive manufacturing will be used to improve design flexibility and support faster time-to-market. “We are excited to work with iBASEt to put in place an innovative technology manufacturing infrastructure," said Mark Bishop, VP of Operations at Earlens. "We believe it is a smart move for us to implement an MES/QMS solution now, in the early stages of our business, so that we can rapidly scale production to meet growing demand for our product and keep pace with design changes and improvements."

"Additive manufacturing, using 3D printing technology, is a fundamentally new approach that offers manufacturers a number of advantages over traditional methods for better design flexibility, time to market and cost control," added Vic Sial, President of iBASEt. "We appreciate the confidence Earlens has placed in iBASEt by choosing our software and team of experts to put in place the innovative manufacturing infrastructure the company needs to manage production, streamline operations and meet changing design and regulatory requirements."

The Earlens photon processor and light tip can be used for around 24 hours on a full charge, and takes four hours to recharge with a dedicated wireless charger, included with the product. The 3D printed hearing aid adapts automatically to the wearer’s environment, minimizing background and wind noise, and comes with four customizable programs. Feedback reduction technology, a custom-built light tip and lens, and easy-to-use buttons all contribute to a better hearing experience.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Ken wrote at 9/12/2016 6:14:55 PM:

Sound interesting but what happens when ear wax builds up and blocks the light?

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