Our health care heroes continue to work tirelessly on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis. To help keep them safe as they care for patients, they have been wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), such as face masks.

But wearing these masks for an extended period of time has caused many medical professionals to suffer skin irritation from the elastic bands rubbing behind their ears. In response, Dunwoody College of Technology alumna and current 3D Printing Instructor Jazmine Darden started designing, printing, and donating “ear savers,” reports KSTP News.

The ear savers attach to a person’s mask so it can be worn without putting strain on the ears. Darden has already sent out hundreds of ear savers since she started making them.

“I have 22 printers running down here right now,”  Darden told KSTP on a video call from her basement, which she calls “The Lab.” “I just can’t keep up with the orders. I just sent a package out to California yesterday for 300.”

Originally, the ear savers were made out of plastic printed from Darden’s 3D printers and included “I AM” statements from her “I AM” product line she launched two years ago, which uses daily affirmations to spread positive thinking. But given the high demand for her product, Darden partnered with Taurus Engineering in St. Paul to create an injection mold that would boost production from the 300 to 400 ear savers Darden printed a day to around 10,000 a day. According to Darden’s website:

All of the injection molded parts are all one color and all say “I AM” on them. The system is automated and can make 5,000 ear savers every 12 hours. That would take me a month to 3D print that many!

To cover the cost of the mold and production of the first 20,000 ear savers ($10,000 total), Darden launched a GoFundMe page that not only reached her goal but continues to receive financial donations that will go toward the next batch of 10,000 ear savers.

Darden told KSTP News that the project has been “an emotional roller coaster” but that she is “so grateful that I’m able to help out.”

To donate or request ear savers for essential workers, visit here.

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