Perhaps you don’t need a hearing aid now but, like millions before you, some day you might. When that day comes, you will be happy that on December 21st, 2000, Phonak officially started their collaboration with Materialise and its team of software developers to create a solution that would forever change how hearing aids are designed and produced: RSM (Rapid Shell Modeling).
Making the Shift to a Digital Solution
Before RSM, producing a hearing aid was a labor-intensive process that could only be performed by a shrinking pool of highly-skilled artisans. The process was not only time-consuming, but it often required quite a lot of manual retouching of the hearing aid before a comfortable fit could be achieved for the end-user. Thanks to RSM, it was possible to put a new digitized and automated process in place, saving time, effort, and resulting in a more comfortable, acoustically optimized hearing aid that can now fit so deep in the ear that it is nearly invisible to the outside world.
How the process works (as shown above):
- An audiologist takes an impression of the patient’s ear canal
- The impression is scanned and the digital file is uploaded to the hearing-aid manufacturer, where a digital model is created in as little as 6 minutes using RSM and then optimized for the patient
- Using Magics RP, the shells are prepared for building, with several shells being printed in a single build (and of course, the orientation of the shells on the platform has also been optimized for a more efficient build)
- The shells are manually finished and the electronics are easily inserted since the shell has been optimized to hold them.
- The patient receives a high quality hearing aid that fits great and sounds fantastic.
Thanks to RSM, hearing aids can be made faster and more accurately than ever before. An added bonus for any patient unfortunate enough to lose, step on, or damage their hearing aid in some way, is that their digital file can be used to create a replacement without having to start the process all over again from the beginning. It is no wonder that around 99% of the world’s hearing aids are now made using this method.
Over 10 Million Satisfied Customers and Counting
It is incredible to realize that since 2000, this partnership has managed to transform an industry, has helped more than 10 million people, and has expanded the possibilities for better acoustics, increased personalization, and higher quality of life for individuals suffering from hearing loss. Furthermore, through this long-term partnership Materialise has not only lived up to its mission of innovating product development resulting in a better and healthier world, but have helped Phonak live up to their own: Interact freely. Communicate with confidence. Live without limit. Life is on.