Colorado artist 3D prints ear guards to help protect healthcare workers from COVID-19 infection

Friday May 22, 2020 0 comments Tags: Lakewood, RMCAD, Ian Southwell, COVID-19

LAKEWOOD -- As COVID-19 continues to change the world, healthcare workers have become the heroes we need during this time.RMCAD-logo 

Healthcare workers are wearing layers upon layers of gear to ensure that they are protecting themselves, patients, and others when providing care. Workers are using face masks that when worn for extended periods of time can dig into the skin, head, and ears, often causing marks, discomfort, and sometimes even bruising. 

Ian Southwell from RMCAD knew something had to be done to help.

Southwell's idea for 3D printed ear guards to accompany medical masks came from a combination of peers, social media groups in the 3D printing space, and a Boy Scout, Quinn Callander, who crafted a model for the guards.

Ian started 3D printing ear guards with grooved "security straps" to ensure masks aren't rubbing on the face of medical workers all day. The guards are printed in 20 minutes and made from PLA plastic, a polymer made from renewable resources.

The hope is that these ear guards relieve some of the physical stress of wearing masks that make direct contact with the ears and face.

"The specialists have enough stress in their work environment, if we can help relieve a little of that stress, then we should help,” Southwell said.

After printing is complete, the guards are being dropped off in bulk at RMCAD, and then passed along to someone who distributes them to where they are needed and being requested.

This could include hospitals, doctors' offices, nursing homes, and anywhere that healthcare workers would benefit from this piece. 

Southwell said knowing how to support a cause with so much uncertainty can often be challenging.

“This sort of experience rallies around the Unknown. So many times we walk into a learning environment because we want to know more. What better way to learn than to blaze new trails and improve as we go?"