Get ready to shelve your disgusting earplugs because this one is a doozy.

Researchers Xin Zhang, Reza Ghaffarivardavagh, Jacob Nikolajczyk, and Stephan Anderson, along with their team of engineers from Boston University recently conducted an experiment which involved blasting a loudspeaker through a standard PVC pipe. But instead of hearing the funneled sounds of dubstep through said pipe, the team heard absolutely nothing. The expected sounds didn’t render them deaf but were instead muted by their latest creation: a 3D printed ring which cuts 94% of sounds passing through it.

The “acoustic metamaterial” as they call it, was placed on the open end of the PVC pipe near the loudspeaker and allowed to do its work. The dimensions, shape, and specifications were designed by mathematicians to let air and light to pass through but for sound to bounce back to its originator.

Unlike other soundproof methods which use thick panels, the acoustic metamaterial doesn’t turn sound vibrations into heat. This allows users to mold the material based on what they are trying to soundproof; be it a room, motor, or an office cubicle. As an added plus, the mathematical nature of the method doesn’t require the outer portion of the metamaterial to be a ring for it to reflect sound.

sound proofing ring

According to Xin Zhang, this 3D printed ring is just the start. With endless applications for the technology in different fields, the acoustic metamaterial could easily replace the hefty soundproofing equipment we’ve been using all these years. Coupled with its customizable nature, the tech could even mute sounds which couldn’t be muted before (like a leaky faucet, for instance).

Read the group’s Physical Review paper detailing this sound-proofing marvel in-full here.

Author

Carlos wrestles gators, and by gators, we mean words. He also loves good design, good books, and good coffee.