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Publication numberUS3505999 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateApr 14, 1970
Filing dateAug 25, 1967
Priority dateAug 25, 1967
Publication numberUS 3505999 A, US 3505999A, US-A-3505999, US3505999 A, US3505999A
InventorsHarvey Susan L, Iliff Richard W
Original AssigneeOld Westport Medical Ass Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
US 3505999 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

April 14,1970 5, HARVEY ET AL 3,505,999

EARPLUG Filed Aug. 25, 1967 INVENTORS.

I v Susan A. Harve J 38 5 Richard w. Il/ff a a onww s.

United States Patent 3,505,999 EARPLUG Susan L. Harvey, Kansas City, Mo., and Richard W.

Ililf, Shawnee Mission, Kans., assignors to Old Westport Medical Association, Incorporated, Kansas City, Mo., a corporation of Missouri Filed Aug. 25, 1967, Ser. No. 663,398 Int. Cl. A61f 11/02 US. Cl. 128-152 9 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE An earplug having a flexible, expandable bag adapted for expansion within the auditory canal of the ear, the bag having a relatively rigid tube extending thereinto for delivering fluid from a pump, in communication therewith, to effect expansion of the bag upon actuation of the pump. The tube, being relatively rigid, aids in insertion of the bag into the auditory canal and a disc-like stop surrounds the tube externally thereof and rearwardly of the bag to limit the extent of insertion of the tube and bag into the ear. A bendable element extends along the tube for shaping the same to fit over the external ear whereby the earplug may be supported by the external ear.

This invention relates to an ear-protecting device and, more particularly, to an earplug adapted for insertion into the users ear to give effective protection against industrial noises and the like.

Itis the primary object of this invention to provide an earplug having a greater efliciency than those heretofore known and conventionally used in industrial plants and the like for protecting the user against noises arising in such plants. Particularly, it is an important object of this invention to provide an earplug assembly which is relatively small in size and which is much more adaptable for convenient use than are the conventional earmuff type headgear silencing assemblies now normally utilized in industries.

It is yet another object of this invention to provide an earplug having flexible structure, in the nature of a bag, which is. capable of being individually contoured-for precise fitting within the auditory canal of the users ear, there being a relatively rigid tube associated with said bag for aiding in the insertion thereof into the users ear.

The present invention has been tested under laboratory conditions and it has been found that it is equal to any earmufl type headgear silencing assembly such as normally conventionally used and is also superior in performance to insert type earplugs also now used in industry. Thus there is provided a relatively compact, individually fittable earplug which is effective in its protection against industrial noises and the like, thereby permitting widespread use thereof.

Other objects include details of construction which will become apparent from the following specification and accompanying drawing, wherein:

FIGURE 1 is a cross-sectional view of an ear showing the earplug inserted therein;

FIG. 2 is a side elevational view thereof, portions being broken away to reveal details of construction;

FIG. 3 is a fragmentary, enlarged, partially schematic, cross-sectional view of the earplug assembly;

FIG. 4 is a fragmentary, cross-sectional view of the bag portion of the assembly;

FIG. 5 is a side elevational view of a pump for the assembly; and

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 66 of FIG. 3.

3,505,999 Patented Apr. 14, 1970 The earplug assembly 10 has, as its major components, a flexible, expandable bag 12; a relatively rigid tube 14; and a fluid pump 16. The bag 12 is intended for insertion into the auditory canal of the user of the earplug 10 and is provided with a closed end 18 and an open end 20, the bag 12 initially assuming the flattened condition such as shownin FIG. 4 wherein the bag is shaped over the end of tube 14.

Bag 12 is secured, at its free end 20, to tube 14, intermediate the ends of the latter, by a collar 22, which collar tightly secures the free end 20 of the bag to the tube 14, thereby preventing leakage of fluid from the bag during use of the assembly 10 as will hereinafter be described.

The tube 14 has one end 24 thereof extending well into the bag 12 and normally in contact with the end 18 thereof, both when the bag is in a collapsed condition as shown in FIG. 4 and when the bag is in an expanded condition as shown in FIG. 3. The free end 24 of the tube 14 is provided with a suitable orifice 26, which orifice 26 is confined within the interior of the bag 12, that is between the collar 22 and the end 18 of the bag.

Disposed in surrounding relationship to the tube 14 and a portion of bag 12 between collar 22 and end 18, is a disc-like stop member 28, which member limits the insertion of the bag. 12 into the auditory canal 30 of the user, in the manner best shown in FIG. 1 of the drawing.

The opposite end of tube 14 is in communication with a pump 16, which pump includes a piston 32 slidable within an elongated cylinder 34, there being a pair of O-rings .36 providing a tight fit between the piston 32 and the interior wall of the cylinder 34. The pump 16 is operable by means of a plunger 38 whereby the piston 32 may be reciprocated longitudinally of the cylinder 34.

A suitable sealing attachment is made between the end 40 of tube 14 which is in communication with pump 16 so that there is provided a closed fluid system in the earplug assembly 10. The fl-uid 42 is preferably in the form of a liquid, such as water, and a reservoir thereof is initially provided within the cylinder 34 prior to insertion of the bag 12 within the auditory canal 30 of the user, the bag being initially inserted in its deflated condition as shown in FIG. 4 of the drawing.

In order that the earplug assembly 10 may be comfortably and conveniently carried by the user thereof, an elongated wire 44 extends essentially from one end 24 of tube 14 to the other end 40 thereof, whereby to per- 1 mit shaping of the tube 14 so that the same may be conformed over the external ear 46 of the user in the man ner shown, for instance, in FIGS. 1 and 2. The wire 44 is provided with loops 48 at each end thereof to prevent puncturing of the tube 14 or the bag 12 during use of earplug assembly 10.

In using the earplug assembly 10, the bag 12 is inserted into the auditory canal of the user until such time as the stop member 28 engages the walls of the canal to preclude further insertion of the deflated bag 12 and the end 24 of tube 14 which extends thereinto. It will be recognized that the rigidity of tube 14, which is normally formed from a flexible plastic material, facilitates insertion of the bag 12 inasmuch as it would be diflicult to properly position a flexible member such as bag 12 within the relatively small auditory canal 30 without the aid of a somewhat rigid element. The use of stop member 28 is desirable to prevent over-insertion of the bag 12 and tube end 24 and to prevent puncturing of an eardrum, such as eardrum 50, due to penetration of the bag 12 and tube end 24.

Once the bag 12 has been positioned in the auditory canal 30 of the user, the plunger 38 is actuated whereby to move from the position shown in FIG. 3 to a depressed condition, thereby forcing the fluid 42 from the cylinder 34, through hollow tube 14, and through a restrictor 52 positioned therein, the restrictor 52 having a passage 54 therethrough of smaller diameter than the inside diameter of tube 14 whereby to maintain the flow of fluid in and out of bag 12 at a predetermined rate. The fluid leaves tube 14 by way of orifice 26 and passes into the interior of bag 12, thereby causing expansion of the bag. It will be readily recognized that, since the bag 12 is within the auditory canal of the user, the maximum expansion thereof will be limited by contact of the exterior of the bag with the walls of the users auditory canal. Thus, when the bag is expanded, a plug is effected in the auditory canal.

Such a plug is easily maintained inasmuch as the rings 36 of piston 32 are in sufliciently tight frictional engagement with the interior wall of the cylinder 34, that when the piston 32 is moved to a depressed position to force fluid into the bag 12, the contact between the 0- rings 36 and the interior wall of cylinder 34 will maintain the piston in such depressed condition. The plug is also maintained by virtue of the valving effect of restrictor 52 and the reduced size of its passage 54.

After the bag 12 in inflated, thereby effecting the plug, the tube 14 and its associated wire 44 can be conformed, as illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, so that the wire and the tube extend out of the auditory canal and up and over the external ear of the user as is clearly shown'in FIG. 2 of the drawing. The device then may be readily utilized and will be comfortably and conveniently maintained on the ear of the user until such time as it is desired to remove the plug effected by expanded bag 12.

When this is desired, the plunger 38 may be shifted in the opposite direction, moving the same away from the bottom of cylinder 34 to thereby create a slight suction or .vacuum, thereby causing the removal of fluid from the tube 14 and thereby from the bag 12 to cause deflation of the bag 12 for ease in removing the bag from the ear of the user. It is, of course, apparent that the deflated bag may be readily removed by merely grasping tube 14 adjacent collar 22 and merely withdrawing the same from the ear of the user.

It will be readily appreciated that the extent of plug effected by use of earplug assembly may be individually and selectively controlled by the user inasmuch as the bag 12 may be expanded to the extent desired through selective operation of the pump 16 by the user.

In the ear-protection field a commonly used standard is that emanating from the British Study of Rice & Coles, made in 1966 which established the arbitrary value of V51R as equivalent to certain insert, rigid, plug-type protection devices. Standard earplugs with this range are made by American Optical Company and the Wilson Division of Ray-O-Vac, but a person working in an area where exceedingly noisy machines or jet engines are operating is often not adequately protected by the V51R plug. Hence, it has frequently been necessary to utilize a headgear arrangement wherein specially constructed earmuffs are provided to protect against the noises.

Our invention, by its unique individual fitting into the persons ear, is 40% more effective through the speech range than the V51R plug, thereby presenting an ear protection device which is substantially as effective as the bulky earmuff arrangements. The present device is, of

course, advantageous in that it is relatively small and easy to operate, thereby obviating the need for bulky and relatively expensive earmuff assemblies.

Thus, there is provided an earplug assembly Which is economical in construction, light in weight and not bulky in use, as is desirable, and yet which provides a most effective sound barrier when properly inserted within-the ear of the user.

Having thus described the invention, what is claimed as new and desired to be secured by Letters Patent is:

1. An earplug comprising:

a tube having a fluid outlet at one end thereof;

a fluid-impervi0us bag for insertion in the ear and in communication with said outlet, the bag being flexible for ballooning tightly in the car when fluid is forced thereinto through the tube under pressure; and I structure coupled with the tube for forcing fluid into the bag, said structure including a piston and cylinder assembly.

2. The invention of claim 1,

said bag having a pair of opposed ends,

said tube extending into one end of the bag with said end of the tube terminating adjacent the opposite end of the bag placing the latter in surrounding relationship to a portion of the tube.

3. The invention of claim 2,

said outlet being in the side of the tube spaced from said one end of the latter.

4. The invention of claim 2,

the rigidity of the tube being substantially greater than that of the bag to facilitate insertion into the ear.

5. The invenion of claim 1, and

a stop on the tube for limiting the extent of insertion thereof into the ear.

6. The invention of claim 1,

said tube having a bendable element therein for shaping the same to fit over the external ear.

7. The invention of claim 1,

the piston of said assembly having means thereon frictionally engaging the cylinder for maintaining the pressure of the fluid in the bag.

8. The invention of claim 4, and

a stop of the tube for limiting the extent of insertion thereof into the ear.

9. The invention of claim 3,

said bag being resilient and the opposite end thereof being drawn against said one end of the tube, said one end of the bag aflixed to said tube to maintain said bag in a stretched position.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,719,523 10/1955 Von Gierke 128-152 2,803,247 8/1957 Zwislocki 128-152 3,111,125 11/1963 Schulte 128-231 3,348,542 10/1967 Jackson 128-260 ADELE M. EAGER, Primary Examiner US. Cl. X.R. 181-23

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US2719523 *May 25, 1954Oct 4, 1955Von Gierke Henning EEar protector
US2803247 *Dec 2, 1954Aug 20, 1957Josef J ZwislockiEarplug
US3111125 *Nov 6, 1961Nov 19, 1963Schulte Rudolf RDrainage device
US3348542 *Dec 2, 1964Oct 24, 1967Richard R JacksonAnesthetic articles
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3800791 *May 15, 1973Apr 2, 1974Flents Prod Co IncAdjustable ear plug
US4060080 *Mar 15, 1976Nov 29, 1977Taichiro AkiyamaPlug for living body
US4133984 *Aug 3, 1977Jan 9, 1979Koken Co., Ltd.Plug-type hearing device
US4406282 *Feb 20, 1981Sep 27, 1983Parker Bruce WEarplug for an underwater diver
US4834211 *Feb 2, 1988May 30, 1989Kenneth BibbyAnchoring element for in-the-ear devices
US4896679 *May 22, 1989Jan 30, 1990St Pierre Carol LMethod and apparatus for the exclusion of sound and water from the auditory canal
US4913165 *Jul 24, 1989Apr 3, 1990Michael FishgoytUnderwater eardrum protector
US5135007 *May 10, 1991Aug 4, 1992Lo Nahm VMeans and method for semi-automatically attenuating sound in the ears
US5682020 *Jan 17, 1996Oct 28, 1997Oliveira; Robert J.Sealing of hearing aid to ear canal
US5865183 *Jun 3, 1997Feb 2, 1999Safe Dive Ltd.Device for equalizing pressure across the eardrum of divers
US8251925 *Dec 31, 2008Aug 28, 2012Personics Holdings Inc.Device and method for radial pressure determination
US8550206May 31, 2012Oct 8, 2013Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties, Inc.Method and structure for achieving spectrum-tunable and uniform attenuation
US9138353Feb 16, 2010Sep 22, 2015Personics Holdings, LlcEarplug and pumping systems
US9216114 *Dec 30, 2010Dec 22, 2015Sonomax Technologies Inc.Head-mounted device for settable compound delivery system for inflatable in-ear device
US9333116Mar 14, 2014May 10, 2016Natan BaumanVariable sound attenuator
US20090192407 *Dec 31, 2008Jul 30, 2009Personics Holdings Inc.Device and method for radial pressure determination
US20110158456 *Dec 30, 2010Jun 30, 2011Voix JeremieHead-mounted device for settable compound delivery system for inflatable in-ear device
WO2010094033A3 *Feb 16, 2010Apr 26, 2012Personics Holdings Inc.Earplug and pumping systems
U.S. Classification128/865, 181/130
International ClassificationA61F11/00, A61F11/10
Cooperative ClassificationA61F11/10
European ClassificationA61F11/10