Military Noise Reduction System Housing

With a tight deadline, we were tasked with designing a housing for a noise reduction system used by military pilots that met military standards.

More Information:

Client: Sound Innovations, White River Junction, Vermont

Product: Active Noise Reduction System

Product Type: Electronics packaging design

Target Markets: Government, military


Creative Engineering’s Challenge:

Design a package that houses an active noise reduction system used by military pilots. Work with an unfinished design concept and create a design that meets all specified functions and test requirements within 30 days.

Meet in excess of 60 individual electro-mechanical verification tests performed by the military, including:

  • Environmental performance standards

  • Objective performance testing

  • In-flight performance testing

“The problem we gave Creative Engineering was not an easy one to solve. We placed a lot of limitations on them and needed the project completed in a very short period of time. They met the objective and we are extremely satisfied.”


Creative Engineering Meets Rigid Deadline and Rigorous Military Testing Standards with Electronics Packaging Design


Sound Innovations uses its expertise in control algorithms, signal processing, and acoustics to develop headsets that improve communication and protect and enhance hearing. Sound Innovation’s first headset technology, active noise reduction (ANR), cancels unwanted background noise by accurately measuring noise at the ear and then broadcasting canceling sound waves that meet the incoming noise at the optimal point for noise cancellation. The patented system is useful to people in a variety of situations, including industrial workers exposed to loud machinery, operators of loud construction vehicles and consumers listening to portable electronics in noisy areas.

The U.S. Air Force contracted Sound Innovations to develop an earplug product for military pilots and aircrews that incorporates the company’s proprietary ANR technology in order to help aircrew protect their hearing and distinguish radio communications from other environmental noises. One of Sound Innovation’s challenges was to develop an electro-mechanical package to house the ANR system that would meet the rigorous military specifications. Sound Innovations developed an initial concept but determined that it would not meet all of the required standards. With one month left to finalize the design, Sound Innovations asked Creative Engineering to refine the mechanical and industrial design portions of the housing to ensure that the product would pass military testing.

Matt Maher is a senior development engineer with Sound Innovations who worked with Creative Engineering. He found Creative Engineering through an online search and set up a phone call to talk about finishing the electronics packaging design. He says his initial conversation gave him confidence that Creative Engineering could get the job done. “We chose Creative Engineering based on our initial communication. We knew that they were technically competent, and they were willing to work within our very tight timeline,” says Maher.



Creative Engineering got to work developing revised packaging concepts using Pro/ENGINEER, a computer aided design (CAD) program for creating three dimensional models. Within a few days they presented Sound Innovations with three separate concepts. Using a Web collaboration tool while talking on the phone, they reviewed the functional details of each concept with Sound Innovations, showing them every aspect of the dimensional models so they could choose one of the three concepts.


“Creative Engineering introduced us to online screen sharing. We had never worked that way. It was very easy and efficient. In fact, we’ve adopted it for other projects,” says Maher. “Communication with Creative Engineering was easy throughout the entire process.”

The ANR system straps across the chest with components that clip onto the pilot’s helmet. The module is made of high-strength plastic, with internal metal shielding and conductive gaskets to reduce electrical noise and keep the processing board firmly in place. The housings are assembled with thread-forming screws that compress the perimeter gasket. It includes a vent with a water-resistant membrane to reduce issues of pressure equalization. And because the pilot must be able to access the battery compartment while wearing flight gloves, Creative Engineering specified a quarter-turn fastener that securely closes the battery door while allowing easy access.


Components of the Active Noise Reduction System

The ANR system is made up of:

  • Microphones to measure the noise field

  • An electronic ANR module consisting of a processor and algorithm that determines the cancellation signal

  • A speaker that broadcasts the cancellation signal

The packaging is made up of four injection-molded, high-strength plastic parts that hold the system’s components in place, and includes:

  • Internal metal shielding and conductive gaskets to help reduce electrical noise and keep the processing board firmly in place

  • Thread-forming screws that compress the perimeter gasket

  • A water-resistant vent to reduce issues of pressure equalization

  • A quarter-turn fastener that securely closes the battery door while allowing easy

The product is in the final stages of military testing and will be certified for Air Force use in 2009. To learn more about Sound Innovation’s ANR technology, go to

Matt Maher says he’s extremely satisfied with the work Creative Engineering performed during the 30-day design process. He tells prospective clients that they can expect the following if they choose Creative Engineering:

  • Technical Competency: “They have a very high level of technical competency that results in a successful product.”

  • Online Presentations: “They introduced us to screen-sharing presentations where we could view three dimensional design concepts online and easily share feedback.”

  • Excellent Communication: “There was a very high standard of information exchange throughout the brief project.”

Take a look at some of our other military projects!