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3D Printers Unite!
Kevin Shu and Colin Morris

Amidst the ongoing Global Pandemic, it may be difficult to “sit on the sidelines”. I felt the same way but I knew the school had 3D printers that were not currently in use. 

At the outbreak of COVID-19, initiatives were launched to aid frontline healthcare workers currently fighting the virus. By using 3D design and printers, organizations were able to create all kinds of equipment from face shields to ventilator parts. I first read about this when Mr. Morris shared this article, “From Design to Mass Printing in 3 Days” with those of us in Electronics & Robotics 10 since we were learning about 3D design at the time.

As Southridge possesses multiple 3D printers, I suggested a plan to use those printers to aid this initiative. So research and planning began to find out exactly what to do. It would be the opposite of helpful if the items were contaminated or just not practical in our situation. We wanted to print face shields, like in the article, to donate to hospitals and other healthcare facilities around BC. This presented the challenges of thorough sterilization and sourcing the clear plastic sheets. We also learned that donations to BC hospitals were being directed to Operation Protect which will accept 3D printed supplies if they met strict federal guidelines. Between all of these challenges, we decided to develop a new plan to try and help our community directly.

A majority of face masks, that many people are now wearing regularly, are held on by elastics aroundthe ears. Many people have reported increasing discomfort and this is where our new plan comes in. Some brilliant makers and designers around the world have created 3D printable “ear savers”.  A simple item that holds the elastic bands off of a wearer’s ears for increased comfort. So we have a new print, a new goal, and a new plan. Print these “ear savers” and donate them to anyone interested.

Now, it is time to provide the “why”. As I have learned in my classes, it is important to support my claims with evidence; why should we proceed with such an initiative and what benefit will we gain? Well, it is crucial that everyone takes the necessary precautions so that we can contain the spread of COVID-19 and “flatten the curve”. By providing this product to the public, it may encourage others to wear masks and other precautions. These “ear savers” can reduce the chance of sores, blisters, and bruises that may occur with the constant pressure of the elastic bands of PPE masks making them an easy fix to an ongoing problem. Lastly, this is a small way that we (Southridge) as a community can help in the fight against COVID-19.

The solutions are out there and with our current technologies, we just have to go and look for them by using versatile tools such as 3D printers. We can work together as a team and everyone can pitch in and help. We are all one.

We appreciate your help in getting the ear savers distributed to anyone who needs them. Please direct your requests and inquiries to Mr. Morris by email at cmorris@southridge.bc.ca. Once you make a request, your prints will be wiped down with a disinfectant wipe, placed into a Ziploc bag, and you will be given a date and time to pick them up from the school.

Submitted by Kevin Shu, Grade 10 Student and Mr. Morris, Physics/Robotics Teacher