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News

Rapid Shell Modelling software launched for commercial sale

Materialise NV : 28 May, 2006  (New Product)
Materialise announces the release of its 'Rapid Shell Modelling' software. Today several industry leading companies already rely on RSM for the automated design and rapid manufacturing of hearing aid shells. After undergoing four years of exclusive development, the software is now being introduced for general sale.
Over the years, RSM has proven to speed up the design and manufacturing process, to simplify the reproduction of a hearing aid, to increase accuracy and to smooth the transition from a manual, labour-intensive process into an automated one.

After an initial exclusivity period of four years, all parties have agreed that Materialise can launch its RSM software into the hearing aid market. This highly automated shell modeling application was conceived in 2001 . The goal was to improve efficiency, quality and reproducibility in hearing aid design and manufacturing by setting up an innovative end-to-end process. This process includes digitally capturing the ear canal geometry, interactive 3D modeling of the shells and direct manufacturing in batch processes with rapid prototyping equipment. As of today, all hearing aid manufacturers can now take advantage of this intelligent application to automate, optimise, and speed up their business processes.

RSM software reads a 3D scan of the ear impression and guides the operators step-by-step through the shell design process. The steps include fitting the raw impression to the correct instrument size, converting it to a shell, adding a venting channel, simulating the placement of components, integrating a wax guard and a faceplate, and performing quality control tasks. The result is a geometry that can be read directly by a rapid prototyping machine. Throughout the process, RSM's intelligent design automation tools and ear-anatomy recognition capabilities make the life of the operator as easy as possible. The visualization and device-type-aware, automated placement of the different electronic components guarantee an optimal design, making hearing aids more compact and less visible in the patient's ear.

A single hearing aid shell can be detailed and modeled in four to six minutes and the left and right shells can be produced simultaneously. After modeling these shells, the geometries and the steps taken to produce them are archived automatically, supporting the production of remakes and replacement devices . A customizable database interface offers the option to integrate RSM smoothly into the scanning infrastructure and existing ERP and/or ordering systems. In addition, Materialise offers a wide range of specialized RP tools, which create a perfect link with different production technologies (laser sintering, stereolithography, DLP etc.).

The RSM project represents over 30 years of research and development and is proving to be a winner. Several hearing aid manufacturers are successfully building hearing aid shells directly from designs produced by RSM in their various production sites worldwide. With more then 1.5 million shells already produced, t he results show that the project definitely achieved its goals. The Materialise Software Development Services team continues to further fine tune and improve the application, and is now working on version 4.0.
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