Free items given out on planes have been reported as highly unhygienic. Most notably, headphones, whose foam ear cups are hardly ever changed unless torn. Single-use earphones provide a solution to this problem but contribute toward a larger one surrounding sustainability.
Dampen headphones use replaceable water-soluble padding to provide an alternative solution to existing in-flight headphones, battling e-waste and reducing the spread of harmful bacteria.
The headphones’ modular design allows individual parts to be replaced or repaired instead of disposed of, further reducing the amount of waste produced by the airline industry.
Product design Manufacture Graphic design
After identifying the issues surrounding in-flight entertainment headsets, I began conducting primary research through questionnaires with frequent passengers and interviews with pilots and existing manufacturers. I even went as far as running LCAs and bacterial tests by disassembling and swabbing competitor products.
After ideation and concept development, I created a CAD model of the final solution to evaluate and improve the overall design for manufacture, optimising for injection moulding, which involved removing undercuts, dense areas and adding draft angles for ejection. In addition, FEA stress, drop, and excess pressure tests were used to verify the product's feasibility against the applicable BSI Standards.
Despite COVID-19 restrictions, I decided to create a physical model of the product. After testing various water-soluble materials, a semi-working prototype was 3D printed, painted and finished - later used for testing, feedback, filming, and proudly displayed in the Made in Brunel: Final Showcase.
Creating a product that is both better for the user and the environment has been incredibly fulfilling. This project has provided me with a greater understanding of sustainable and hygienic design and given me an insight into the quality and processes behind the products we use daily.
In the future, further development of the modular electronics and the water-soluble materials needs to be undertaken to make the product more appropriate for mass consumer manufacture. In addition, physical testing will have to be carried out with both passengers and contractors to understand the solution's potential pain points better, making incremental improvements to refine the design.