Materialise Talking


The name “Materialise” should ring a bell to anyone that’s visited this blog lately as I just recently posted an image of some of their work (Link). However, people should be aware that it’s a much bigger outfit than just some guys in a shop surrounded by SLA machines. The cool products we designers gawk at is usually the work of Materialise’s MGX division, but among their other divisions is Materialise Software. And from today’s press release, it’s apparent they’ve been busy.

The above image is a screen from the 4th generation of their Rapid Shell Modeling (RSM) software application, initially an exclusive software product. In December, Materialise announced (Link) that this software would be available for general sale. At that time they also announced that version 4.0 would most liketly ship in September 2006 – they’re way ahead of schedule. I have to wonder if that’s a hint of things to come. From today’s press release (Link):

With the new release Materialise is taking this innovative software for the automated design of hearing aid shells to the next level. This latest version takes in major enhancements to the user interface and introduces comprehensive binaural modeling. Materialise has updated and extended its functionality for In The Ear (ITE) modeling. The key innovation however is the possibility to design earmolds. Scheduled for release early April, RSM version 4 is expected to greatly advance its ease-of-use and to speed up the design process for hearing aid shells significantly.

For those of you familiar with some of the primary end-use applications for rapid-prototyping technology (aka rapid-manufacturing), the focus on hearing aids won’t be a surprise. For those of you who aren’t familiar, hearing aids are about as close to the perfect application for this emerging technology as one could hope to find:

  • It’s a medical device so it tends to be pricey.
  • It’s often covered by insurance.
  • It lends itself to customization.
  • It’s a small product so it fits inside the build volume of most machines.

  • This cutting edge company, more than any other, appears to be leading the charge toward a wholesale shift in how products are manufactured. That’s no small thing. Neither is the speed at which it could occur.

    via Core77

    {Image Copyright © 2005 Materialise NV}