COVID19 DIARIES: EAR SAVERS

Here is what some of our members are doing for the community.

On Sunday, the 5th of April, my wife Cindy told me about a problem one of her contacts was having.  She is a nurse, and like all our medical professionals, she is working long hours right now, and just about every one of those long hours requires her to be wearing an N95 mask.

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Unlike the particle masks most of us are familiar with, the N95 “surgical” masks hook firmly around each ear, not around the back of the head and neck.  For most people, these straps are chafing and irritating after even a short time. All kinds of solutions are being used to make the long-term use of these masks more comfortable, from head scarves with buttons to paperclips.  Cindy’s friend has been stuffing cotton behind her ears as padding under the straps.

Not an hour later, the young vice-president of the company I do IT and engineering work for contacted me to see if we still had our 3D printer.  He was browsing around for ideas about how we could help support the COVID-19 effort and found something called an “ear saver” to address the very problem Cindy and I were talking about.  The design is available freely on ThingiVerse, a forum for 3D printers and other types of home-based manufacturing to share ideas and designs.

ear savers

I downloaded the design and printed some prototypes.  We have a very small printer, so I started working on re-designing the device to better fit the capacity of our little machine.  After several iterations, we came up with one that we have been printing ever since. Cindy’s friend had the first of them in her hand that day.

We have been printing these continuously ever since.  The company I work for is paying for the material, and our family is providing the time and the machine.  I published my design, and there are more than 30 people who are printing these as well. Our daughter Jessica started making contacts to distribute them, and we have standing requests for all we are able to donate.

We will continue printing and donating so long as our printer holds up and there is still a need.  Others are encouraged to download the design and get in on the act! If you have a 3D printer, here is a link to the design:

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4266306

If you do get involved and are having trouble finding takers, contact me.  Our daughter has developed a network for distribution and we have standing requests for all that can be donated.

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