A prototype is a preliminary model of something. Projects that offer physical products need to show backers documentation of a working prototype. This gallery features photos, videos, and other visual documentation that will give backers a sense of what’s been accomplished so far and what’s left to do. Though the development process can vary for each project, these are the stages we typically see:
Proof of Concept
Explorations that test ideas and functionality.
Demonstrates the functionality of the final product, but looks different.
Looks like the final product, but is not functional.
Appearance and function match the final product, but is made with different manufacturing methods.
Appearance, function, and manufacturing methods match the final product.
The Fader Plug Story
In 2015, CEO and Founder, Blaise Delfino, M.S. - H.I.S., embarked on a mission to aesthetically refashion and perceptually transform the use of hearing protection; Blaise wanted to remove the fear and stigma associated with wearing earplugs. Prior to starting graduate school, Blaise further conceptualized the device with his father, Dr. Gregory Delfino, Au.D., CCC-A. Dr. Delfino has been a clinical audiologist for 30+ years and immediately recognized the value that Fader Plugs would provide to individuals exposed to noxious noise.
During graduate school, Blaise and Team Fader competed in the PA State System Business Plan Competition (2016), as well as the TecBRIDGE Business Plan Competition (2017). Fader Plugs placed first in both competitions, winning over $120,000 of cash and in-kind services. Competing in both business plan competitions procured the resources Fader Plugs needed to pursue and conclude research and development.
Team Fader partnered with Creative Engineering, located in Bronxville, NY to develop the Fader Plug proof of concept and working prototypes. The team continued to build its infrastructure and added a Director of Creative Development, a Director of Public Relations, an advisory board with notable business professionals, a legal team, and an accounting team. Fader Plugs has immersed itself into its community and works with educators from East Stroudsburg University and with the local chamber of commerce to participate in events, exhibit, and glean more press.
We have selected the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform in an effort to gauge our consumer market and to fulfill our budget needed to publicly launch.
Research and Development
Fader Plugs chose Creative Engineering as the primary engineering firm to bring the Fader Plug to life. Below is an overview of the tasks associated with each phase of product development:
Phase 1 (Completed May 2016) :Research & Concept Development
Creative Engineering will start the project by seeing what has already been done and coming up with solutions.
Phase 1 Tasks:
Perform additional patent search
Research applicable technologies
Purchase reference materials as appropriate
Identify key challenges
Develop conceptual solutions to the challenges
Phase 2 (Completed September 2016) : Proof of Concept Prototype
In this phase, Creative Engineering will design and prototype the chosen concept from the previous phase. It is possible that some iteration may be required before the Design for Production phase can begin.
Phase 2 Tasks:
Engineer the chosen concept for prototyping
Obtain earplug “blanks” as required for test prototype
Obtain raw materials and custom parts
Fabricate, assemble and debug the test prototype
Client to test the performance of the prototype
Phase 3 (Completed May 2017) : Design for Production
Once a prototype design has achieved an acceptable level of performance, the product will be engineered for production.
Phase 3 Tasks:
Develop the aesthetics: our Industrial Designer will create renderings of the look
Finalize the aesthetics
Engineer the two versions of the product in CAD in every detail
Review the design
Adjust the design based on feedback
Obtain prototype quotes
Create drawings and documentation of the design for costing and patent application
Phase 4 (Completed July 2017) : Validation Prototypes
Before production can begin, the designs created in the previous phase must be prototyped and tested to ensure the products will perform as designed.
Phase 4 Tasks:
Obtain prototype parts
Assemble and debug prototypes
Fader Plugs to perform validation testing
As indicated above, Fader Plugs has completed all phases of product development. This allows our team to effectively and efficiently deliver your universal and/or custom Fader Plugs in a timely manner.
Blaise Delfino is the CEO and Founder of
Fader Plugs, LLC. Blaise thought of the
Fader Plugs concept while running on the
beach in Long Beach Island, NJ in the summer of
2015. He embarked on a mission to
refashion the perception of hearing
protection. He, and Team Fader have won
two business plan competitions including
the 2017 TecBRIDGE Business Plan
Competition. Since the initial development
of Fader Plugs, Blaise has put together an
advisory board and added more team
players to his business dynamic.
He grew up with the influence of hearing
healthcare practitioners with his father
being a Doctor of Audiology, and his
mother being a Pennsylvania licensed hearing healthcare
specialist. The family currently owns Audiology Services, LLC,
of which Blaise, upon undergraduate completion, decided to
work and develop his business and clinical skills. He studied to receive his
certification as a Pennsylvania Hearing Healthcare Specialist.
Blaise later graduated from East Stroudsburg University in
Spring 2017 and was the graduate commencement speaker. He completed
his Master’s of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders, more commonly known as Speech-Language Pathology. Aside
from thriving in business and progressing as a young
entrepreneur, Blaise is a musician; he plays the piano and acoustic guitar. As a practitioner of creativity and artistic
production, he creates and continues to write his own music.
Blaise’s audio engineering career led him to successfully
produce a number of songs, including the iTunes charting hit,
“First” feat. Blaise Delfino.
Outside of the business world, Blaise loves to read. He finds it
imperative to work on yourself harder than you work on your
business. He preaches and practices personal development, utilizes
the law of attraction in his daily life, attends networking events, and
enjoys his hobbies of photography and video editing. He enjoys going
to the gym and spending time with his family and friends. Blaise is a
Lehigh Valley local and is adamant about being a part of the
community’s business development efforts; he has recently joined
the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Dr. Gregory Delfino is the President and Founder of Fader Plugs, LLC.
Dr. Delfino is Blaise’s father and further conceptualized the Fader
Plug as far as design, structure, and functionality. His educational
credentials and thirty plus years in the field of audiology warrants Dr.
Delfino as an expert in the field, able to diagnose hearing deficits,
communicate treatments and instruct on hearing preservation
methods. Dr. Delfino received his Bachelor’s of Science in Political
Science from Seton Hall University, and then completed his Master’s
of Science in Audiology from Montclair State University. He finalized
his education in receiving his Doctorate of Audiology from the
Arizona School of Health Sciences, a division of Kirksville College of
Osteopathic Medicine. He is board certified and licensed to practice
Audiology in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Dr. Delfino has worked in
major medical centers and private otolaryngology practices in New
Jersey and Pennsylvania. He began his career at The United
Children’s Hospital in Newark, NJ. He then worked at St. Joseph’s
Regional Medical Center in Paterson, NJ, as well as Hunterdon Medical Center in Hunterdon, NJ. He now works at Lehigh Valley
Health Network with campuses throughout the Lehigh Valley, PA.
Pete Theodoropoulos is the Vice President and Co-Founder of Fader
Plugs, LLC. Pete and Blaise met in fall of 2014 and by Spring of 2016,
Pete was a part of the Fader Plugs team and continues to deliver in all
areas of business expertise, including sales, business to business
planning, networking, and mentorship. Pete is a prominent young entrepreneur in the Lehigh Valley and has received his Associate in Applied Science
in Culinary Arts as well as his Associate in Applied Science in Hotel
and Restaurant Hospitality Management from Northampton Area
Community College. Pete, also a Lehigh Valley local, is most
recognized by his ownership of the Nazareth Diner - a 24-hour
operating diner, complete with breakfast served all day.
Additional team members include Director of Creative Development, Kiel Fortner, Director of Public Relations, Autumn Deiter, Fader Plug project engineers, Kevin Skeuse and Paul Dowd, as well as Gerald Ephault, Leo McGowan, Steve Somers, and Don Webster.
Partners and Affiliates
Fader Plugs is excited to announce that ProtoCAM: Additive Manufacturing will be manufacturing the Fader Plug. ProtoCAM is a leading provider of value-added additive manufacturing and rapid prototyping services for customers in a wide variety of industries, including defense, aerospace, automotive, medical, architecture, and consumer goods.
Additional affiliates include Audiology Services, LLC of Nazareth and Bethlehem, PA. Audiology Services is Dr. Delfino's private practice and preferred distributor of Fader Plugs. Audiology Services has been servicing the Lehigh Valley for almost 20 years.
Fader Plugs, LLC is a member of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce. They are the 7th largest Chamber of Commerce in The United States of America.
Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) and Personal Attenuation Rating (PAR) Attenuation Ratings/Testing
Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) was developed by the EPA in 1978 as means of assigning a numerical value to the level of hearing protection a consumer could expect from a specific product. The assumption was that the higher the numerical value, the greater the protection.
A single number rating would be affixed to the product to inform the consumer that an estimated level of noise reduction for the 98th percentile of protection was available to the users when properly fit into their ears. However, all too often earplugs are not properly fit into the ears by the wearer yielding hearing protection less effective than expected.
The NRR was designed for the application of C- Weighted noise levels. Occupational noise exposure standards utilize an A –weighted measurement protocols. The NRR overestimated the actual protection afforded by a particular earplug or ear muff (Berger, Franks & Lindgren, 1996) . As a result, NRR “derating methods have been proposed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to approximate real-world performance until the labeling system is changed or fit testing is required (NIOSH,1998).
Personal Attenuation Rating (PAR) is the process by which an earplug or earmuff is fit to an individual and attenuation performance is measured using a probe microphone placed in the ear canal in tandem with the Hearing Protection Device being tested. PAR testing is designed to be used with A weighted noise exposure measurements. PAR testing instills confidence in the appropriateness of the Hearing Protection Device selection, allows for ear specific fitting adequacy, binaural attenuation values and provides an educational opportunity for the correct insertion method for maximum attenuation for the device being evaluated.
Risks and challenges
Fader Plugs is in a unique position in that we have completed all phases of product development, as well as product validation. Fader Plugs have been tested amongst colleagues, friends, and family. The challenges are not regarding the product itself. While product development has concluded, there are a few challenges that we may encounter. However, we have a solution for each challenge:
1.) Durability: We do not currently have long term durability claims. However, the team is working with our manufacturers to establish a test center and protocol to ensure quality control and durability.
2.) Noise Reduction Rating: Fader Plugs works with an in-house Audiologist who specializes in noise reduction rating (NRR). Once the first round of the Fader Plugs are manufactured, we will be sending them to be tested and obtain an accurate NRR rating. The NRR rating is a subjective measure, which means it sometimes lacks reliability. However, personal attenuation rating (PAR) will also be conducted. This is an objective measurement of attenuation and provides greater accuracy with regard to overall noise attenuation.
3.) International Service Delivery (Custom Fader Plug): In order to receive your custom Fader Plug, you will need to visit an Audiologist or licensed hearing instrument specialist. Through Fader Plugs' affiliate, Audiology Services, we have the tools to overcome this challenge. Audiology Services works closely with Starkey Hearing Technologies, the global leader in hearing healthcare. Fader Plugs will be able to direct our international consumers to a trusted Audiologist and/or license hearing instrument specialist to take impressions of their ears.
Everyone has a dollar to "burn"...right? Well, help us out and throw us one! For your support, we will include your name in a special shout out video "blast" shared across our social media accounts after our campaign. This video will feature our Director of Creative Development, Kiel, sharing one of his favorite past times while sporting a pair of our Custom Fader Plugs. Let's "ignite" this campaign!
We appreciate your support! For the $5 pledge, Team Fader will send you a personalized "thank you" e-mail and add you to our e-mail list. You will be the first to know the latest Fader Plugs news, learn about new products, and become a part of the team.
We support our troops! As a thank you to the men and women who currently and have served our country (The United States of America), Team Fader is going to throw in a complimentary t-shirt with the purchase of a universal pair of Fader Plugs!
Available as our standard universal fit. Also available in universal children size.
Fader (or attenuator piece) color options: white or black
Housing (silicone ear insert) color options: black, white, red, orange, and green.
Receive one pair of custom and one pair of universal Fader Plugs, as well as complimentary attendance to Fader Plugs’ launch party in Spring 2018. (travel expenses not included but overnight accommodations covered and selected by Fader Plugs)