HearClear: Noise Toggling Hearing Protection

How might we design affordable and trendy noise toggling ear protection for machine workers?


To design a consumer product that is worn on the head and develop proficiency in rapid prototype and 3D scanning


General Engineering 402: Computer-aided Product Realization


Fall 2014

Mechanical Design
Rapid Prototyping
3D Scanning
Autodesk Fusion 360

About project

In this project I worked with a team of mechanical engineers and industrial designers to design a consumer product that can be worn on the head. This constraint allowed the team to become more proficient in 3D scanning of facial features to inform product design.

We decided to focus on designing better hearing protection for machine operators. This is because according to OSHA up to 30 million workers are exposed to noise levels that will put them at risk of hearing loss. After collecting feedback in class and from reflecting over personal experience, we realized that people were donning and doffing their hearing protection to communicate across the machine shop floor. This inconvenience led to some people eventually choosing to forgo the protection. Another problem we found was the interference of eye protection with hearing protection.

Design and Engineering

The hearing protection we wanted to design had to meet the following specifications:

  1. Noise toggling ability
  2. Integrated with safety glasses
  3. Aesthetically pleasing

To meet this specifications we came up with a mechanical noise toggle based on a cam system. This was inspired by click pens. Every time the toggle is depressed, an air gap will open or close to let in or block sound respectively. To hasten our time to a working prototype we based our design on the Neiko 53925A.

To verify the fit and form of the design we used a ZScanner to scan a female head. We imported this head into Fusion 360 and used it as a basis from which to design the eye protection, especially the nose bridge.

This was followed be several iterations of rapid prototyping to further refine the design.