3D-printing + goodwill means hearing for kids in the Middle-East

3D printing

Some 12,000 deaf children in the Middle East may hear thanks to 3D printing technology and plenty of human kindness.

It's one of those stories whose happy outcome—quality of life for children with hearing loss—depends on a coming together of the right elements: a place with people in need, such as a developing country where World Health Organization estimates say only three percent of those in need of a hearing aid actually have one; the right time, in which 3D printing technology has become sufficiently economical to efficiently batch-produce hearing aid moulds; the know-how of an organisation that seeks no profit for its help; and the altruistic will and strength of someone with a good business head.

These are the ingredients of a project now aiming to gather around $200k to set up a lab for hearing care and 3D printing in a town in Jordan. The groundwork has been done by Jerry Szolomayer, a 40-year-old with a finance degree who left the "greedy" banking profession to teach as a volunteer for the Holy Land Institute for the Deaf and Blind in Salt, Jordan.

Szolomayer's efforts led to him setting up a nonprofit outfit called 3dp4me (3D Printing for the Middle East). He has teamed up with another nonprofit, World Wide Hearing, to help deliver the fruits of this adventure. The technical consultancy is provided by audiologist, Brian Fligor, from Lantos Technologies in Massachusetts, whose 3D ear-scanning technology is crucial to the operation. Their scanners collect over 10,000 data points from a patient's ear, providing precise measurements for the making of an earmould.

The project, which envisages a Jordan lab producing 12,000 hearing aids over four years, is seen by Szolomayer as a model for long-term future provision of hearing assistance around the world. "If children can get a hearing aid before they go to school, they can communicate, and they can learn," he said.

Source: Los Angeles Times