Calling All Fellow 3d Printing Nerds!

Fighting COVID-19 One 3D Print at a Time

by | Apr 10, 2020 | Community | 2 comments

by | Apr 10, 2020 | Community | 2 comments

COVID-19 has certainly changed life as we know it here in the USA and around the world. Businesses have been forced to close, employees are working from home and social distancing has become our best weapon against spreading this horrible disease.

Unfortunately, there are select groups of people who can’t work from the comfort of their home. All those who work in “essential” businesses are truly heroes in every sense of the word.

They risk their health every day by working in their industry to help all of us have the food, electricity, internet, and healthcare that we need during these troubling times.

Healthcare workers, in particular, have been hit hard with this pandemic as worldwide supply shortages of life-saving respirators, PPE and N95 masks are having to be rationed out on a daily basis.

Many healthcare workers have resorted to using their own makeshift equipment and masks because there simply isn’t any more certified equipment available to use.

3D Printers to the Rescue!

It’s no secret that I’m a nerd, and for those of you who are like me and who own a 3D printer, or at least have access to one, NOW is the time to answer the bat signal that has clearly been put up by these poor healthcare workers!

There is one simple thing you can do to majorly impact healthcare workers in need.

Ease the Pain on Their Ears

N95 and surgical masks are vital to help healthcare workers protect themselves, but the ear loops on the masks can make a worker’s ears incredibly sore day after day.

Many nurses have taken matters into their own hands by sewing headbands with buttons on them to hold the ear loops from the mask to save their ears from the pressure.

Thanks to 3D printing, you can accomplish this same task in a fraction of the time and at relatively large scale!

I found a design from ZSDesignz on Thingiverse that many of the nurses at our local hospital like. There is a short and long version of this ear loop holder, but the feedback I’ve gotten from nurses is that they like the longer holder as it seems to fit best.

The best part about these holders being plastic is that healthcare workers can easily wipe them down to sanitize them between shifts.

How Many Can You Print at a Time?

At home I have a Creality Ender 3 with a 220 mm build plate, and I was able to print 25 at a time in about 8 hours. At the BKA office, I was able to print 100 at a time in about 24 hours on the Creality CR-10 S5, which has a 500 mm build plate.

**Check out this time-lapse video of the last 100 holders I printed on the Creality CR-10 S5.

These ear loop 3D-printed parts are easy to make — this week alone, I’ve made over 300 of them for nurses at our local hospital.

Cost Per Part

Assuming that a roll of PLA filament costs you $25, and you can make about 300 of these parts with an entire roll of filament, each one of these parts comes out to be about $.08 per piece. This is a tiny price to pay in order to help hundreds of nurses and doctors be a little more comfortable while battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are a couple of gracious pics some of these amazing nurses sent back to me: 

Printer Settings

I used Ultimaker Cura (FREE) to slice these parts, but here are the settings I used:

  • Printer Brand: Ender 3
  • Rafts: No
  • Supports: No
  • Resolution: .2 Layer Height
  • Infill: 0%
  • Filament: PLA

Download the 3D print file I used here.


Put That 3D Printer to Work!

While I just gave one example of something simple you can 3D print that can make a big difference, the 3D community has created much more than just ear loop holders.

Makerbot Thingiverse has created a page dedicated to COVID-19 related things that you can print. There are masks, face shields, and much more that people have made that you can print for free to donate to your local clinic or hospital. You can check that page out here.

Now find a design, fire up the 3D printer, and save the world!

Greg Secrist
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