Adjustable hearing protection Fader Plugs

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In 2015, CEO and Founder of Fader Plugs, Blaise Delfino, M.S. – H.I.S., embarked on a mission to aesthetically refashion and perceptually transform the use of hearing protection; Blaise wanted to remove the fear and stigma associated with wearing earplugs. Prior to starting graduate school, Blaise further conceptualized the device with his father, Dr. Gregory Delfino, Au.D., CCC-A. Dr. Delfino has been a clinical audiologist for 30+ years and immediately recognized the value that Fader Plugs would provide to individuals exposed to noxious noise.

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Many people are unaware of the effects of exposure to loud noise/music, often referred to as noise-induced hearing loss. Team Fader strongly believes in hearing preservation and wanted to create a revolutionary product that can be worn by children and adults in loud environments. The device has a wide range of applications: industrial/factory, construction, music, healthcare, landscaping, shooting ranges, subway traveling and etc.

Creative Engineering came up with a way to solve fitting a complex noise suppression mechanism into a package small enough to sit inside the human ear. After brainstorming a couple different approaches the team settled on a set of wedge shaped openings that rotate past each other to vary the amount of suppression.

Moldability was a big challenge with such a small and organically shaped device. Creative invented a way to shape the plug to ergonomically fit the ear, while still being shaped in a way that it could be formed easily using injection molding. Another challenge was including tactile feedback, letting the user know how far they had adjusted the noise suppression. Creative came up with a micro-sized mechanism to make small clicks that could be felt by the user’s finger as they adjusted the noise suppression.

At first it was designed to be small, and then Blaise challenged Creative to make it smaller. By thinning out a few walls and playing some tricks with the geometry it was almost small enough. Optimizing the cross sectional area of the air path to be the minimum necessary, for the highest volume setting, turned out to be the key to fitting all of the required functionality into the tiny package.

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Research and Development Plan

Fader Plugs chose Creative Engineering as the primary engineering firm to bring the Fader Plug to life. Below is an overview of the tasks associated with each phase of product development:

Phase 1 (Completed May 2016) : Research & Concept Development

Creative Engineering will start the project by seeing what has already been done and coming up with solutions. 

Phase 1 Tasks:

  • Perform additional patent search

  • Research applicable technologies

  • Purchase reference materials as appropriate

  • Identify key challenges

  • Develop conceptual solutions to the challenges

Phase 2 (Completed September 2016) : Proof of Concept Prototype

In this phase, Creative Engineering will design and prototype the chosen concept from the previous phase. It is possible that some iteration may be required before the Design for Production phase can begin.

Phase 2 Tasks:

  • Engineer the chosen concept for prototyping

  • Obtain earplug “blanks” as required for test prototype

  • Obtain raw materials and custom parts

  • Fabricate, assemble and debug the test prototype

  • Client to test the performance of the prototype

Phase 3 (Completed May 2017) : Design for Production

Once a prototype design has achieved an acceptable level of performance, the product will be engineered for production.

Phase 3 Tasks:

  • Develop the aesthetics: our Industrial Designer will create renderings of the look

  • Finalize the aesthetics

  • Engineer the two versions of the product in CAD in every detail

  • Review the design

  • Adjust the design based on feedback

  • Obtain prototype quotes

  • Create drawings and documentation of the design for costing and patent application

Phase 4 (Completed July 2017) : Validation Prototypes

Before production can begin, the designs created in the previous phase must be prototyped and tested to ensure the products will perform as designed.

Phase 4 Tasks:

  • Obtain prototype parts

  • Assemble and debug prototypes

  • Review prototypes

  • Fader Plugs to perform validation testing

As indicated above, Fader Plugs has completed all phases of product development.

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Take a look at the patent that we helped them secure!