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Navy Lab Using 3-D Tech to Fight Hearing Damage in Sailors

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NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – Lt. Cmdr. Kyle Shepard sticks a large probe into a sailor’s ear, watching on a computer screen as he maps the ear canal.

After about 10 minutes of precisely detailing out the sailor’s ear, Shepard pulls out the scanner. He’ll now be able to send off the data to create the Navy’s best attempt at reducing the military’s top injury.

Audiologists at Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) at Naval Air Station Patuxent River are using scanners and silicone models to create earplugs that protect air crew from noise damage. Currently, earplugs are made by an outside company, depending on if it is made from an efit scanner or from the silicone model. But the audiologists are looking to be able to 3-D print the earplugs in house soon, saving the military cost and time.

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