TAMPA, Fla. (May 18, 2020) – The University of South Florida College of Engineering has manufactured hundreds of devices, called ear savers, to improve the comfort of face masks. This special plastic strip is lined with hooks, making the elastic mask straps adjustable. Instead of resting directly behind the ears, the bands loop on to the ear saver, alleviating pressure.
Particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, medical professionals are required to wear face masks, often continuously during 14-hour shifts. The elastic bands can be painful, cause sores and lead to headaches.
In response, the USF Mini-Circuits Design for X Laboratory has 3D-printed 500 ear savers and recently delivered them to Tampa General Hospital, which serves as USF’s primary teaching hospital and the USF Health faculty practice. The devices are reusable and printing can easily be scaled up or down based on demand.
“Medical professionals are the ones who are saving lives, we’re trying to keep them safe on their mission,” said Michael Celestin, lab director and senior research engineer. “I’m proud to work with my amazing student assembly volunteers who have been instrumental in getting this project to be a success. We continue to work while maintaining social distancing and protective best practices as we fulfill the continuing supply requirements of our local medical community.”
The ear savers are in addition to the lab creating face shields to address the nationwide shortage of personal protective equipment. The lab has produced 8,000 face shields since it started assembling them in mid-March, with no plans to slow production.
About the University of South Florida
The University of South Florida is a high-impact global research university dedicated to student success. Over the past 10 years, no other public university in the country has risen faster in U.S. News and World Report’s national university rankings than USF. Serving more than 50,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee, USF is designated as a Preeminent State Research University by the Florida Board of Governors, placing it in the most elite category among the state’s 12 public universities. USF has earned widespread national recognition for its success graduating under-represented minority and limited-income students at rates equal to or higher than white and higher income students. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference. Learn more at www.usf.edu.