February 22, 2018

Challenges

Hearing Impairment is a Global Problem

 

Chart provided by World Wide Hearing

 

Communication Break-Down

Consequences:

If you can’t hear… you can’t learn to speak
If you can’t speak… you can’t COMMUNICATE in a hearing world
If you can’t communicate… you’re socially and economically deprived

Usually this leads to:

1) Low sense of self-worth, insecurity
2) Lack of education, timidity
3) Stigmatization in many societies
4) Social isolation, under employment
5) POVERTY

Information provided by World Wide Hearing

 

Limitations of Making Ear Molds by Hand

The traditional plaster method to produce the ear molds for hearing aids, is a “piece of artwork” and very time-consuming. A technician can create 3 or 4 ear molds at one time, but the process can take up to an entire day to complete. The two materials available for use are silicon and acrylic.

Making the ear impression

1) Clean the ear
2) Mix the two materials together in a syringe.
3) Place the mixture inside the client’s ear with a foam stop. It usually takes about 2 minutes to dry, and the client can’t talk while it’s setting.

Our Challenge

The danger: One part of the mixture used to create the foam ear impression is flammable. 

The cumbersome nature of the logistics
The mixture is only shipped in a large quantity by boat from Europe. This, of course, adds to the overall cost and takes a considerable amount of time.

The current process involved in making the ear mold:

4) Place the foam mold in wax.
5) Put the mold in plaster and heat for 45 minutes.

Our Challenge

6) Remove the foam mold out of the plaster.
7) Lacquer the existing negative space.
8) Let it dry in the window for 1 hour.
9) Pour the silicon into the existing negative space.
10) Heat the mold for 45 minutes.
11) Let dry for 1 hour to reduce pressure.
12) Hammer and cut out the molds.

Finishing process

13) Customize the ear mold, using a drill and small instruments.

14) Use an air blower to remove dust.
15) Use coarse sandpaper to smooth the ear mold.
16) Place the ear tube inside the hole that was created.
17) Apply lacquer to the outside.
18) Place the ear mold on a rotating machine to dry.

 

How is a Hearing Aid different from Ear Mold?

 

Hearing Aid

It’s a small electronic device that you wear or behind your ear. It makes sounds louder so that a person with hearing loss can listen, communicate, and participate more fully in daily activities. A hearing aid has three basic parts: a microphone, amplifier, and speaker.

Ear Mold

It’s a piece of plastic or other soft material molded to precisely fit in the ear and to deliver the sound from a “Behind the Ear” hearing aid.

Image courtesy of Asiga