Glowforge, the Seattle-based 3D laser printer company, is mobilizing tens of thousands of Glowforge owners across the country. Together, they’ll get one million Ear Savers to people on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis who are experiencing pain and damage from their masks.
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Ear Savers printed on a Glowforge 3D laser printer provide relief for essential workers who wear PPE for extended periods of time. (Photo: Business Wire)
Starting today, doctors and nurses, cleaners and grocery staff, transit and delivery workers, first responders and all other essential workers can get free Ear Savers by visiting glowforge.com.
Masks weren’t meant to be worn all day, every day, and supplies are running low. An Ear Saver is a small, easy-to-print adapter that improves the fit of surgical and N95 masks, and makes them more comfortable for long-term wear. The hooks let the wearer use a mask of almost any size. They also remove pressure from the ears of the wearer, which can cause discomfort and eventually damage.
Glowforge is converting part of its factory production line to print free Ear Savers. To get help to our front lines as fast as possible, Glowforge is also creating a network to match individual Glowforge owners with the people and organizations in their own community who need their help. Each Glowforge 3D Laser Printer has the capacity to print more than a thousand Ear Savers each day, and there are tens of thousands in homes around the world.
Glowforge owners can sign up to print Ear Savers at Glowforge.com, where they’ll be connected with nearby people and organizations in need. Owners of other lasers can download the free file from Glowforge.com and sign up to match, too.
“It’s only possible for us to stay at home because so many people are going out and doing essential jobs to keep us all safe. We can never thank them enough,” said Dan Shapiro, CEO of Glowforge. “But by donating our time, our effort, and our creativity, we can help the people who are helping us. It’s a small thing that can make a big difference.”
Glowforge worked with biomedical engineers, doctors, and infectious disease experts to design the Ear Saver specifically for widespread use and distributed at-home printing.
“Three weeks ago, I went to my garage planning to print personal protective equipment (PPE) to donate to our local medical professionals. But I couldn’t figure out which design to print, or who would accept the donation if I did,” said Shapiro. “The more I learned about homemade PPE, the more clear it was that there wasn’t an easy way for people to help. So I did what I always do when I’m confused: I called a bunch of people who are way smarter than me.”
The result of this expert collaboration is the Ear Saver: a PPE aid that is fast to print using inexpensive materials, which doesn’t require certification for use, and which can be effectively sanitized between uses.
Says Motschenbacher on Instagram (link), “My business has had to shut our shop down since we’re a non-essential business [in the wake of COVID-19]. The upside? Being at home with the [Glowforge] all day has enabled us to help our first responders and medical personnel in a big way! So far, we’ve cut thousands [of Ear Savers], distributed locally and shipped to more than 23 states.”
Motschenbacher isn’t alone. Glowforge customers in more than 30 countries have been using their machines to print supplies for institutions like Kaiser Permanente in CA, community hospitals like Piedmont Athens Regional Hospital in GA, and first responders including those at the East St. Louis Fire Department in IL, as well as in support of coordinated statewide responses such as the Nevada COVID Task Force.
Glowforge 3D laser printers are also being used for biomedical device design teams responding to the critical global shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has used Glowforge printers to create a clinician-validated face shield design. This initiative is already fabricating hundreds of thousands of face shields per day.
Glowforge is a Seattle-based startup that created the 3D laser printer. Glowforge’s wireless desktop laser makes it simple for designers, artists, and makers to take products directly from digital design to reality. Unlike 3D printers that use additive technology to build objects out of plastic, Glowforge uses subtractive technology to cut and engrave products from durable and beautiful materials like wood, leather, acrylic, paper, fabric – even chocolate. A sleek and efficient design makes this industrial-grade technology beautiful and affordable, and a friendly cloud-based app makes it easy to create amazing things with Glowforge. For more information, please visit Glowforge.com.