When the homemade mask craze hit a few weeks ago, with volunteers churning out dozens of cloth masks for local senior care facilities, food banks, retail stores and anyone else who might need one, Martin Lackner wanted to do his part.
Only problem was, the Persian Gulf War Marine veteran and commander of the Canby-Aurora Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6057 didn’t have a sewing machine handy. So, like any resourceful military man, he made do with what he had: a 3D printer.
3D printers can’t make face coverings, but they can make something just as important for those who have to wear them for hours at a time: ear savers. These simple plastic devices loop around the back of the head or neck and keep the elastic bands from rubbing on the ears.
Lackner has printed more than 1,000 and given them all away for free. He and a helper distribute them locally through non-contact porch pickups, and he’s also shipped them all over the state and country.
“Between me and a few other Portland-area printers, we have produced and distributed over 10,000 of them for free,” he said. “Canby Fire got 35, Seattle Children’s Hospital, Lake Oswego Urgent Care, OHSU, Adventist Health, St. Mary’s in Michigan. Sent some to New York City, New Orleans; the list is long.”
He got the initial design from an online 3D printing community, but he soon developed his own, one with a larger hole in the center to accommodate a ponytail. Lackner’s unique design is more comfortable for those with long hair, but it also helps hold the device in place for easy removal and replacement of a mask.
He said he has heard from numerous recipients that the ear savers are, well, a life saver.
“A nurse at Country Side Living said she forgot she was wearing a mask,” Lackner said. “Others commented that they had burns on their ears from wearing the masks for so long, but they healed up in a few days with the ear savers.”
Lackner has posted his design online for other 3D printers to download and use for free. If you or a loved one needs an ear saver, contact Lackner on Facebook.
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