02.01.04

Howard Leight reinvents cylinder earplugs

-- New design and material improve fit and performance
-- Patented "no-roll" foam construction eases insertion, adds comfort
-- Uniform attenuation profile blocks noise while voice can be heard more naturally

Smithfield, RI -- Product designers at Howard Leight have taken a new approach to the standard cylinder earplug. Combining new material with an entirely new design concept, the new Matrix™ line of single use earplugs offers users a range of benefits, including improved fit and comfort, easier insertion without rolling, and the ability to block harmful noises while human voice frequencies can be heard more naturally.

"Matrix earplugs are a quantum leap in single use, cylinder earplugs," said Bill Sokol, VP Strategic Marketing for Howard Leight parent company, Bacou-Dalloz. "They offer a better overall wearing experience than any other cylinder shaped earplug, and are especially well suited for applications that require constant wear and/or communication between employees."

Key to the success of the Matrix plug design is the use of a proprietary thermoplastic elastomer material (TPE) and a patented, dual density foam construction process. Unlike conventional PVC plugs, the center of the Matrix plug is tightly compacted and much denser than the outer portions of the plug. This results in a semi-rigid core that provides lateral resistance when pushed into the ear. This allows easy insertion without the rolling and waiting for expansion required by traditional cylinder plugs.

The rest of the plug consists of a softer, less dense foam with a smooth outer skin, and a smaller diameter than traditional cylinder plugs, making it extremely comfortable for long-term wear. Industrial users report they do not have to "wait around" for the plugs to expand in the ear canals prior to use, and that the Matrix plugs "feel like they're not even there."

Sokol reports, however, that the best part of the new design is the attenuation profile generated by the TPE foam material. As verified by an independent NVLAP accredited lab, Matrix plugs generate a uniform attenuation profile that has the effect of blocking harmful sound while voices and warning signals can be heard more naturally. In field-testing by over 400 real-world users throughout the US and Europe, this property was enthusiastically endorsed as a major improvement over standard PVC cylinder earplugs.

To suit the needs of the widest range of applications in the worldwide marketplace, Matrix plugs are color-coded for different attenuation levels: Orange colored plugs carry an attenuation rating of NRR 29 db when tested according to ANSI S.319-1974; Green Matrix plugs provide an NRR of 27; and Blue plugs, the lightest attenuation at NRR 23 db. "This prevents overprotection in marginal noise environments," said Sokol, "and allows users to target attenuation, especially in applications where communication is paramount."

Since its beginnings as a one-man operation more than 30 years ago, Howard Leight Industries has grown into one of the largest manufacturers of in-ear protection in the industrial market and is widely recognized as an innovator in protection and fit. Since 2001 Howard Leight has been a part of the Bacou-DallozHearing Safety Group. Combining the innovation and expertise of Howard Leight® Earplugs and Bilsom® Earmuffs, the Bacou-Dalloz Hearing Safety Group is a world leader in hearing safety.


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