3D Printing Revolutionizes High Fidelity Earplugs

The possibilities of 3D printing

The list of rock stars with hearing lost isn't just long - it's star-studded. Take Eric Clapton and Pete Townshend for starters. These two giants, leading members of Cream and The Who, respectively, made their claim to fame by wailing away at guitars (and in Townshend's case, lighting a few on fire, too).

Looking back upon their careers, it's easy to imagine that both regret not using the best ear plugs on the market. Today, both experience intense ringing anytime they're surrounded by silence. What might Simon & Garfunkel say about that sound now?

 

We All Might Need The Best Earplugs

For anyone who's been to a club, the stories of Townshend and Clapton aren't mysterious - they're all too familiar. Anyone who loves music knows the feeling of returning home from a late-night event with ears ringing like a two alarm fire.

Whether it's the pulse of techno, the bass of dubstep, or the wail of hair metal, music can haunt fans long after the concert's over. And, it's not just fans who are at risk.

According to the World Health Organization, some 1.1 billion people (yes, with a B) are at risk of loosing their hearing worldwide. That's well over 10 percent of the Earth's population!

And while some might think, "sure, but how much of that is due to construction," the sad fact is, these are just those who are at risk because of nightclubs, cell phones, and personal speakers.

Needless to say, the vast majority are also teenagers or young people just trying to have a good time. Clearly, the task of developing the best ear plugs isn't just a matter of taste - it's a serious public health challenge.

You Can 3D Print High Fidelity Earplugs?

Enter 3D printing. While us average folks have been trying to figure out what, exactly, 3D printing even means, people have been coming up with all sorts of uses for the new technology.

Some think 3D printing is the future of food, some see it as a way to build cheap houses for the homeless, and others see it as a way to print guns.

But perhaps the most interesting future for 3D printing lies in healthcare - producing artificial legs for amputees, for example.

With all these possibilities, perhaps it's not surprising that we here at Loop even print what we claim are the best ear plugs on the market.

hollow loop earplugs

The benefit of creating high fidelity earplugs in a 3D printer is that the plugs can be precisely engineered to mimic the ear while reducing noise. Here's what that means: the ear naturally captures sound waves and resonates, or vibrates, to produce what we hear as music (or speech, or, well, anything).

Most ear plugs lower sound by damping the vibration and end up lowering the quality of sound - hence why music fans often choose to avoid them. However, the best ear plugs avoid this problem by mimicking the ear's natural resonance, while lowering volume.

This, all thanks to the magic of 3D printing - perhaps the Claptons of the next generation should take note.

If you find this article useful be sure to check out our technology page where we tell you all about the specifics of our Loop.

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