13-year-old making ‘ear savers’ for masks using 3D printer

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EDWARDS (WEEK) – 13-year-old Ben Jones has started making, what are called ear savers, for those wearing masks at Peoria Ear Nose and Throat Medical Group.

The teen from Edwards is using his 3D printer. The idea came to him after he saw boy scouts from Canada doing the same. Jones says he is used to just making figurines on his printer, so it has been a learning curve when it comes to making ear savers. Now that he has the hang of it, he can make nearly 45 ear savers per day.

” I’m not making masks, I’m making the ear savers because nurses that use them, their ears get really raw, the back of them, after using a mask for a really long time, and they’re going to be using masks for a really long time because of the pandemic,” Jones said.

So far, Jones has made more than 100 ear savers for Peoria Ear Nose and Throat Medical Group. Doctor James Klemens says this is a game changer for the one size fits all model for masks.

“You can’t necessarily pull the masks very tight, so wearing those ear savers, it has an adjustable setting,” Doctor Klemens said.

Doctor Klemens says in addition to the ear savers, the medical group has been looking for a piece to connect a new type of face mask. Doctor Klemens explains the mask is a reusable device that can be washed and used with a filter. In the UK, doctors have figured out how to use a scuba mask connected to a filter as a replacement for an N 95 mask.

“One of the reasons we haven’t been able to do more elective procedures is because we don’t have enough protective gear,” Doctor Klemens said.

Doctor Klemens asked Jones if he could create something new on his 3D printer to connect the scuba mask to the filter, and Jones was able to do that.

“It’s going to really be the difference between us being able to get the real back log of surgical cases that, maybe they weren’t urgent at the beginning of all this, but the longer that we wait, more of them need to be done,” Doctor Klemens said.

“I’m just trying to be helpful because I know a lot of other people with 3D printers are doing this so I’m just doing my part to help people out during this pandemic,” Jones said.