Professional musicians and audiophiles may soon be able to benefit from custom-fit, 3D printed in-ear monitors, if this Kickstarter campaign by HW Audio is successful.
HW Audio are a British company that specializes in making custom in-ear monitors for musicians and audiophiles. Now they’ve turned to Kickstarter to raise funds for a new range of customizable in-ear monitors that can be easily fabricated using stereolithographic (SLA) 3D printing.
“At HW Audio we have taken the scans of hundreds of ear impressions to develop our new ultimate fit universal range of in ear monitors,” is the campaign pitch.
“Due to the design, standard methods of manufacturing such as injection moulding were impossible. Instead we have chosen to 3D print the shells that house the same balanced armature drivers as our custom in-ear monitors for professional musicians.”
The current production process at HW Audio is for technicians to handcraft their custom in-ear monitors using a reverse moulding technique. This limits them to manufacturing only 25 pairs of in-ear monitors per day. That, plus the need to take physical ear impressions to make the IEMs.
The plan is to incorporate SLA 3D printing into a more refined production process. All universal and custom in-ear monitors can be produced in-house, and HW Audio will be able to take 3D scans of ear impressions rather than physical moulds.
“This will allow us to manufacture on a much larger worldwide scale,” says the campaign, “and also greatly reduce human error in the process to make the product much more reliable.”
In-Ear Monitors Feature Innovation called The Govnor
But this isn’t the only innovation being packed into these in-ear monitors. The monitors will also include a unique pressure valve called “The Govnor”.
It’s designed to address two problems, say the team at HW Audio. First is the occlusion effect, which creates a hollow sound as you hear the speech vibrate through you rather than you would normally.
The second issue is the possibility of the seal in the ears creating a build-up of pneumatic air pressure that could, if left unchecked over the long term, result in hearing fatigue and even hearing loss.
Trivia buffs may be intrigued to learn that The Govnor is inspired by British engineer named James Watt, who in 1788 devised the same pressure valve for steam engines in the Industrial Revolution.
The HW Audio in-ear monitors are available to back on Kickstarter with pledges starting from £299, although the tier with 3D printing rewards starts at £434. If successful, worldwide shipping is expected to take place in September 2018.