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How are Custom Molded Earplugs Made?

an ear doctor reviewing a 3D model of inner ear

Some earplugs just don’t like to fit. It can get incredibly annoying when you’re buying pair after pair of earplugs which just don’t seem to fit. Some you’ll have to push in until they hurt, others will slide back out either right away or gradually and others just aren’t fit for purpose. 

That’s why a lot of people turn to custom made earplugs. They just make life a lot easier because you know that every time you need the earplugs, you’ll have a pair which will fit nicely in your ear and you won’t have to worry about. The issue is that your ear canal is completely unique to you, meaning you need to get it made to fit you. A lot of people don’t understand why or why there is a certain process to this. Here’s how it works, and why you could benefit from it.

Identify the need

Before you just go ahead and pay for custom plugs you need to make sure you need them. You’ll see online some can be quite expensive. If you wear them infrequently then you might be okay with off the shelf plugs. If you wear them all the time due to working in noisy areas with heavy machinery, with music or anything where the noise is just too much then they might be perfect for you. 

Form the cast

Different providers use differing methodology to create the best fit possible. If you’re going to see an audiologist for them to do it, probably the best way but a drain on your time, then they’ll likely pop some cotton wool in your ear, to get the depth right. They’ll use a liquid mix, which will set in your ear and give you a mold. 

Again, it’s always good to use an audiologist because they know how ear canals can differ and will know how to alter a cast to ensure you get the perfect fit. There are certain manufacturers who will allow you to do this at home and not have to see an audiologist. However, you have to be certain you’ll get it right and put the work in to ensure the mold is correct. You’re responsible for this and you won’t have the benefit of an audiologist’s expertise to ensure you get it right. 

Remember, the filling should not be pushed too deep. If you mess this up you could end up needing a trip to the hospital so make sure you pay attention to the instructions and all will be well.

Making the plugs

Once you’ve sent the cast off, then the company you have chosen will make the plugs up for you and send them back in the post. The timing for this will vary, however it will usually take around 15 to 20 days depending on how busy they are. When you get them back you need to try them out and make sure they fit right. 

Mistakes can be made at the casting process or at the factory, so you need to test them right away and make sure they fit right. If they don’t, most manufacturers offer some sort of guarantee, this is certainly something you’ll want to check beforehand. Most companies will only offer this guarantee for a set period of time so make sure you return them or raise the issue as soon as you can so that you can get the molds adjusted.

How long do they last?

The plugs should last a while. However, if you use them all the time, like daily, your ear canal can get a little bigger. The layers in your ear are essentially moldable and will form around the new plugs, meaning they won’t block the sound as good as they did at first. 

The tightness of the plug will fade over time and you’ll need to get others made. You also need to ensure you look after them property. Some can be quite delicate and can be bent out of shape if subjected to force, so look after them. You might be able to get a case for them to protect them when they aren’t in use. 

If you take care of them, you should get around two years of use from a quality pair of custom earbuds, depending on how often you wear them and for how long each day.

If you want to learn more about custom molded earplugs and how they’re made or more about Your Hearing Connection, call us today at 626-538-9920.