- May 17, 2008
I've been reading the DIY IEM and DIY sleeve threads with interest. One thing that seemed problematic though was finding materials that worked reasonably , and were non-toxic.
I happened across this two part silicon which is specifically intended to create DIY custom earplugs. Better yet it is cheap. The two part means it doesn't need air or UV light to cure and since it is specifically intended to be hypo-allergenic, it seems fairly safe.
Radians Custom Molded Earplugs at Amazon.com - $11.57 per kit
Mfg. web site, radians.com
Here is a quick and dirty project I did to create a custom sleeve for my Bluetooth headset, which I could never get to stay on properly, much less comfortably:
[[full size images available in gallery]]
What's in the pack:
In this particular case, to create the headset, I simply followed the instructions to create an earplug. That is to say, mix up half of each of the material, make a ball, put it in your ear and wait. Remove, let cure a bit longer. (These are just Cliff Notes -- read the instructions before stuff something in your ear!)
I then drilled a small hole in the ear canal portion part way with a cordless drill. Then, drilled a hole where the earpiece would go, making sure to keep it smaller than the actual amount so it fit snugly.
CAREFUL DRILLING so you don't drill *yourself*.
Then, I cleaned it up with a razor blade.
All in all, this took less than an hour, and cost like 15 bucks. And it actually works. I ditched the ear loop, and it stays on my head securely and comfortably.
It isn't perfect. The drilling approach is pretty dicey in a number of ways. One, it is real easy to hurt yourself. Two, it is easy to destroy what you are making. Three, the quality of the holes leaves a lot to be desired.
In hindsight, I think to make the smaller hole, getting some small diameter tubing and sharpening it might work better. Maybe for the big hole too.
The other thing is the surface isn't super smooth. However, I think this is more an issue of using your ear directly to mold the material (pores and hair and stuff). When you work the material by hand, it is possible to get it nice and smooth.
So, perhaps if you built a nice cast you could get a nice smooth result.
I also built a custom sleeve for my wife in a similar way. I created the "ear plug" and then drilled the holes to stuff the IEM in. However in this case the IEM wasn't embedded far enough and was not secure. To resolve this I simply added another coat of material on the back to hold it in and then trimmed it up.
I also managed to get some holes in it, to which I just applied more material. It seems that this stuff sticks to itself reasonably well if clean.
How did it come out? I don't really know. My wife didn't really like them, but she isn't an audiophile, and wasn't really very into the whole thing, so I don't know if the problem was fit, or what.
On the other hand, it seems the material has promise, if the process was refined.
Just for comparison, here are my custom sleeves for my Shure 530s made by Sensaphonics (with professional impressions, etc.):
The impressions take from the audiologist use a much softer material and it is inserted farther in your ear, resulting in a much better impression.
The material used by Sensaphonics is softer and much smoother. I suspect the latter is due to their process, but they obviously use a softer material.
Have fun, be safe.
[Disclaimer: I'm not affiliated with any of these companies, I'm not responsible for you doing something stupid, yada yada.]
EDIT: Another project with this material:
Rewiring an ER-6i just aint that hard, folks. Pics enclosed.