Medical & Dental

ACS Custom doubles production efficiency with 3D Systems Figure 4 Standalone 3D printer

ACS Custom, a UK-based customized ear protection and in-ear devices producer, has reported its productivity following the acquisition of two Figure 4 Standalone 3D printers from 3D Systems.

According to ACS, the acquisition has resulted in an 80% reduction of associated labor costs and a 50% decrease in materials consumption. Reportedly, the Figure 4 Standalones, released by 3D Systems in August 2018, have also doubled the efficiency of production and increased capacity by four.

Andy Shiach, ACS Custom’s Managing Director, said “The Figure 4 Standalone, and the overall collaboration with 3D Systems, have totally exceeded our expectations.”

“By transforming our workflow with Figure 4, our company is being elevated to a whole new level. We have been able to dramatically increase production capacity and efficiency through our ability to nest multiple parts on the same build plate – producing more parts in the same amount of time”

3D printed customized in-ear monitors

ACS provides custom-made hearing protection and in-ear monitors (IEMs), used by musicians and sound engineers, to hear personal sound mixes during live performances and studio recording. The company’s customer portfolio includes instrumentalist and vocalists such as renowned British Saxophonists YolanDa Brown and Alexander Bone, and the OBE music producer and DJ, Jazzie B. In addition to this, ACS also supply in-ear communication devices to the British military.

ACS’ customized ear-pieces are made using 3D printing technology. Using 3D scanners, digital scans of customers ear are produced. These scans are used to 3D print a mold which is filled with medical-grade silicone. Once the silicone hardens the mold is broken and electrical components are added to the ear-piece.

Precision is the key to the whole process, and according to ACS the Figure 4 Standalone DLP printer is ideal for precision manufacturing and low-volume production and offers up to 100mm/hr of print speed at six sigma repeatability.

Furthermore, buyers of Figure 4 do not have to resort to third-party software, as Figure 4 Standalone comes with 3D System’s own workflow management software, 3D Sprint. The software has improved ACS’ workflow efficiency.

3D Systems’ Senior Vice President, General Manager, On Demand Manufacturing & Plastics, Phil Schultz, said “Our collaboration with ACS Custom presented a tremendous opportunity to incorporate eggshell molding in our long list of Figure 4 industrial applications and deliver final in-ear devices that are world-renowned,”

“Figure 4 has helped ACS not only transform their manufacturing workflow, but also maintain their competitive advantage.”


Evolve Custom IEM made by ACS Custom. Photo via ACS Custom
Evolve Custom IEM made by ACS Custom. Photo via ACS Custom

3D printed customized wearables

The fabrication of personalized hearing aids is one of the first areas within which 3D printing proved its potential. Phonak, the hearing aid brand of Sonova Group, has been providing 3D printed custom in-ear devices since 2000, in collaboration with award-winning software company Materialise. In 2017, Sonova upgraded its custom-made devices with the launch of its first metal 3D printed custom hearing aid.

Following this progress, volunteer organization 3DP4ME, partnered with Holy Land Institute for the Deaf, has been able to provide 3D printed customized ear molds to disadvantaged people in the Middle East.

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Featured image shows 3D Systems’ Figure 4 Standalone 3D printer. Image via 3D Systems.