Sonova is leading the way in mass customized production with 3D printing, using EnvisionTEC technology to produce nearly all of its products.
Sonova’s early adoption of 3D printing caused the entire industry to flip to digital production within a few years, and the custom hearing instrument industry is the best example of mass customized production at work.
When Sonova were looking for 3d printing machines for their digital production, they were looking for machines that were:
- Easy to use and operate.
- Produced very consistent hearing aid shells.
- Can produce over 1 million hearing aids per year.
Sonova have totally transformed the way their custom hearing aids are produced, using EnvisionTEC technology.
Their customers, Hearing Healthcare Professionals, take a silicon impression of their customers ear. That impression is then sent to Sonova where the impression is then 3D scanned and a digital model created. A modeller then lays out all the components inside the shell, digitally.
These shells are then loaded into their digital build lab, where the shells are loaded into the EnvisionTEC 3D printers and printed.
The custom made 3D printed shells are then sent to production, where the electronic components are assembled into the shell, tested and then shipped to the client.
The hearing aids they produce are:
- Fit better.
- Are retained in the ear better.
- Last longer.
- Have a better cosmetic appearance.
All these together help people improve their hearing and lifestyle.
Watch this video showing how this technology works and to see the results.
From the beginning, EnvisionTEC has been the 3D printer of choice for audiologists, hearing aid manufacturers such as Phonak and GN Resound, and pretty much anyone making inner-ear devices.
Extreme accuracy isn’t the only reason EnvisionTEC are No. 1. The ability to deliver smooth, organic shapes that fit snugly in the ear, as well as good color choices, helps.
But the real reason is simple: EnvisionTEC listens. EnvisionTEC have worked hand-in-hand with the audiology market since it began using 3D printing technology to improve the printers and materials specifically for the market, so they can deliver durable, reliable shells with thin walls to accommodate electronics.
Take EnvisionTEC’s new E-Shell 450. It produces tough, water-resistant parts and is the clearest 3D printing material on the market. And the E-Shell 451 Carbon Black is a fashion-forward shade that kicks style up a notch.
In all, EnvisionTEC offers more than 16 biomedically approved materials with various skin-tone colors, along with red, blue, pink, tan, mocca, beige, cocoa, brown, black, white, rose clear and crystal clear.
For applications ranging from individual ear molds to shells with integrated face plates the Perfactory® DLP® process can supply high quality parts in bespoke materials.
The economics of running a Perfactory DSP makes it the preferred choice for the hearing aid industry, with technologies providing up to 65 ear shells or 47 ear moulds in 60 minutes.