When one family in British Columbia realized that local hospitals were desperate for "ear guards" to help ease the physical irritation caused by the elastics on face masks, they fired up their 3D printer and got to work, and they're imploring others to do the same.
Mom Heather Roney posted on Facebook to explain that her son, Quinn, had decided to use his 3D printer to help out hospitals that were requesting some somewhat unusual supplies during their battle with the virus.
"Quinn answered a request from the local hospitals for help with creating more 'ear guards' to help take the pressure off health care workers ears from wearing masks all day," she wrote. "He got busy on his 3D printer and has been turning out dozens of ear guards to donate."
Medical professionals fighting on the front lines of the global pandemic are required to wear face masks nearly all day long in order to slow the spread of the virus through hospital staff.
There are various types of masks employed by hospitals, one of which loops over the ears with two small elastic bands to stay in place. For doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff who have to wear these masks all day long, those stretchy bands can become particularly irritating.
The "ear guards" that the hospitals requested grip the elastics from behind the head and free up the ears from contact. The plastic piece holds the mask in place, while incremental plastic nubs along the length allow adjustments for tightness.
A single piece of plastic makes it fairly simple, but they aren't items regularly found in abundant supply—which is where Quinn and his 3D printer come in.
Quinn, who is a member of the Canadian-based Scouts Canada, used a template found online and started to crank out the guards using the 3D printer that his family had. Now, he'll be able to send them off to the local hospitals, where they can be used by doctors and nurses as many times as needed while they work on the front lines.
"We need more volunteers to fire up their 3D printers and donate these ear guards to hospitals and medical professionals!" she wrote.