(Author: Yassmin Shaltout)
For the past four months, Dr. Kyle Luthy has been in collaboration with Assistant Director Paul Whitener at the Wake Forest WakerSpace to 3D print “ear saver” bands which can be used to improve the mask-wearing experience. These “ear saver” bands increase comfortability for the wearer by reducing pressure and friction behind the ear, however, they also serve an important safety purpose by allowing mask-wearers to tighten their mask for a sealed fit. For healthcare workers who are fighting on the frontlines of COVID 19, these “ear saver” bands are indeed a saving grace. Due to a general shortage of personal protective equipment, Dr.Luthy felt driven to use his skills and resources in order to support his local community as well as the university’s community partners. After tinkering with the methodology and technology at hand, Dr.Luthy and Mr.Whitener were able to develop a process for making their “ear savers” with optimal printing speed and quality. So far, they have successfully produced and delivered nearly 8,000 “ear saver” bands to local healthcare professionals at Wake Forest Baptist Health. Their journey in collaboration and community engagement is continuing to grow with more bands being printed consistently. Their next steps include thinking about further expansion into the local healthcare community as well as engaging the undergraduate engineering students in a design competition to create uniquely themed “ear saver” bands.