3D Printing News Briefs: December 11, 2019

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In today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, we’re looking at auditory, instrumental, and performance 3D printed and scanned innovations, starting with an EnvisionTEC case study on its work fabricating hearing aids with Sonova. Moving on, Fast Radius is 3D printing mouthpieces for instruments. Finally, rapper Husky used Texel’s 3D scanning to create a giant replica of himself for a live concert…and you won’t believe what he did with it.

EnvisionTEC’s 3D Printed Hearing Aids Case Study

Swiss hearing care solutions provider Sonova has achieved what many refer to as the holy grail of 3D printing – mass production. The company runs several of the largest, most sophisticated 3D printing factories in the world at its Aurora Operations and Distribution Center (AODC), and these factories are filled with EnvisionTEC Perfactory systems, which busily print roughly two dozen hearing aid shells an hour in a variety of colors. The 3D printed shells are then cleaned, and workers add tiny electronics inside, before customizing each one to comfortably fit an individual patient’s Sonova and EnvisionTEC have been working together for about 15 years to change up the hearing aid industry. Per year the facilities make millions of ITE hearing aids.

“Not too long ago, I read an article in the Wall Street Journal about a certain shoe company … and how it was going to use 3D printing to print one kind of very special  shoe. It made me smile. Because for more than 10 years, we’ve been using this technology not to create some one-off or specialized item, we create all of our custom hearing instruments this way,” said Bill Lesiecki, Director of Business Services at Sonova’s AODC.

“This is truly cutting edge.”

To learn more, download EnvisionTEC’s case study here.

Fast Radius 3D Printing Instrument Mouthpieces

For many years, the instrument mouthpieces by Illinois-based manufacturer ClarinetXpress were fabricated by a machinist partner in Germany. But when the partner retired, the company needed a new way to make its mouthpieces, and turned 3D printing. Because of its design expertise and Virtual Warehouse capability, the company partnered up with Fast Radius, which decided that Carbon’s Digital Light Synthesis (DLS) technology and Rigid Polyurethane (RPU 70) material would be the best fit; Carbon has tested RPU 70 for short term mucosal skin contact for up to 24 hours and other biocompatibility tests. It only took a few weeks to finalize the clarinet mouthpieces through multiple rounds of rapid prototyping, and 3D printing allows ClarinetXpress to order and manufacture low volumes of different sizes and types, instead of a large minimum number of each.

“Even the tiniest variation in a mouthpiece can alter the sound of the clarinet drastically,” said Walter Grabner, CEO and Founder of ClarinetXpress, in a Fast Radius case study on the partnership. “Mouthpieces need to meet precise specifications to achieve the quality and pitch demanded by elite musicians.

“The capacity to produce prototypes quickly is invaluable to me. Now, I can simply submit designs for new mouthpieces to Fast Radius and receive the parts in a few days. Being able to make quick changes and alterations to my mouthpieces has allowed me to deliver an exceptional product to my customers.”

3D Scanned Husky Replica Live in Concert

Russian software developer and professional large-scale 3D scanner manufacturer Texel created a mobile 3D scanning system that can quickly scan large objects, and people, in color. While it also offers the Portal BX and Portal MX scanners, the company’s main product is a digital fitting room, which allows consumers to create digital avatars; very helpful for applications in the fashion industry, but also for other, more creative purposes.

Last month, 26-year-old Siberian rapper Husky used Texel’s equipment to make a 3D scan of himself. The company’s original algorithms ensured that the scan was extremely detailed and accurate, which helped the rapper’s team create a large statue of him – five meters tall, to be precise – which he took onstage during a concert in Moscow earlier this month. The giant Husky replica features the rapper in one of his standard poses, with a hand directed to the sky above. What was most interesting, however, is the fact that the statue was headless…and that at some point during the concert, Husky tossed the head out into the audience! Whatever revs the crowd up, right?

Discuss these stories and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below. 

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