Liz B., business operations analyst, standing in front of her 3D printer with her daughter and husband.
Wearing a mask for a quick trip to the grocery store can make your ears sore from the elastic. Now imagine wearing that mask all day, for hours on end. Ouch.
This was a revelation to Liz B. when she saw a nurse in her community ask for help on social media.
“A nurse was saying how bad their ears were hurting after wearing surgical masks all day – which, of course I never would have thought of – and shared a photo of a little boy who had designed ear guards made from a 3D printer," recalls Liz, a business operations analyst. “My husband and I realized we could make about six an hour using his design, and off we went."
The need grew larger when other nurses who wear surgical masks for hours at a time joined the thread to request the ear guards. Soon, other people with 3D printers were offering their assistance.
“I took down all their names and contacted them separately to start a coordinated effort," says Liz. “We also are keeping track of everyone requesting them."
Once everyone started printing the ear guards, Liz's house became the drop-off location. She either delivers them to nurses, or they stop by her house on the way to work to pick them up.
“We've pushed out nearly 1,000," says Liz. “There are about eight to 10 people printing them, and not a single person wants any money. They're using their own equipment and supplies. It's the least we can do."
They even gave one nurse a box of 100 ear guards to send to nurses in New York. Liz's daughter is using her own printer to get in on the effort, too.
“She grins every time I tell her our new total," says Liz. “You don't have to feel helpless. It's a big help to stay home, but doing this allows us to do more."