Ear’s to Innovation

4th August 2020

In an effort to support Bendigo frontline health workers, Girton Grammar School is using 3D printers to make specially designed strips that secure face mask elastic at the back of the head to relieve pressure on ears, where the face masks usually attach.

An initial run of 150 ear relief strips was 3D printed and donated to Bendigo Health via a Girton Grammar School parent. The strips were so popular they were reportedly snapped up by hospital workers in ten minutes.

Girton Grammar School’s Head of Academic Services and Head of Technology, Mr Rod Smith, instigated the idea during remote learning in Term 2.

“We are always looking for ways to make what happens in the classroom a real-world reality, especially in our eleven Technology based subjects.

“During remote learning, we talked with students about the role and possibilities of Technology in supporting pandemic management, and one of the students said he had seen the ear protectors on social media.

“The students were not able to come into school to use the printers, however, one of our Lab Technicians acted on the students’ enthusiasm and came up with an efficient design that uses minimal materials and printed the first batch of ear protectors,” Mr Smith said.

Many healthcare workers report irritation and aching behind the ears from wearing a face mask all day. The simple plastic strip allows pressure to be relieved from behind the ears and for the mask to be affixed by the two loops that normally go around the ears, by connecting at the back of the head. Each strip takes approximately ten minutes to print and is made from recyclable ABS plastic. The ear protectors can be sterilised and re-used.

Girton Grammar School is currently printing an additional 150 strips for donation to Bendigo Health.

“We have a number of parents who work in the healthcare industry and if we can contribute in some small way to the efforts of people on the frontline of this pandemic, we will gladly do so,” Mr Smith said.

Pictured below: Girton Grammar School Lab Technician, Mr Peter Martin, who designed and printed the ear protectors being donated to Bendigo Health.