Part of the General Knowledge Series.
This episode focuses on how hearing aids are made.
The General Knowledge Show: How Hearing Aids are Made
There are many diseases which may cause a person to lose their ability to hear. This can be very incapacitating, but like sight you can get help from a hearing aid. Like glasses hearing aids are specific, and the strength of the aid can be ascertained by using an audiometer.
A mould of the ear canal, but the ear drum, essential in processing sound waves, is protected using an auto-block is placed in the ear. To make the mould a form of silicon wax is poured into the ear, and when it hardens it is removed. This is a bit like making an impression for a gum-shield. This is soaked in war wax, to make a shape which can create a mould. Another mould is made by placing the original silicon mould into a solution with another form of silicon, to create the mould used to create the hearing aid.
To begin creating the hearing aid acrylic is poured into the mould and it is placed into an ultraviolet oven. This oven allows the acrylic to harden, without producing any heat. When it is removed the technician has the shell of the hearing aid, although the electronic technology is yet to be placed inside it.
Holes are drilled to insert the volume control, microphone, and the speaker. All these components are tiny. Think about how small they would have to be to fit inside a person’s ear! Braided wire is connected to these using pewter, before the circuit is placed into a silicon case to help protect it.
Any excess silicon is removed using a diamond cutting blade, and sandpaper is used to remove any roughness. A vent is also needed, and this is made using silicon tubes before acrylic is used to cover it, and form a tunnel.
A wire is also attached to help the wearer place the hearing aid, and take it out. Finally all the parts are joined together using glue and an ultraviolet light is used again to dry the glue.
To ensure maximum comfort each hearing aid is hand polished to remove any abrasive edges. To ensure that it works a mechanical analyser checks the prescription of each hearing aid.
In total the production of the hearing aid takes around 2 days
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