University of South Florida


USF engineers create ‘ear savers,’ providing relief to health professionals treating coronavirus patients

The ear-saver device created by USF engineers

Medical professionals are required to wear face masks, often continuously during 14-hour shifts. The elastic bands can be painful, and cause sores and headaches. In order to improve their comfort, engineers at the USF College of Engineering have manufactured a special plastic strip that’s lined with hooks, making the straps adjustable. Instead of the straps resting directly behind the ears, they loop on to the ear saver, alleviating pressure.

Face shield

The USF Mini-Circuits Design for X Laboratory has 3D-printed 500 ear savers in response to COVID-19 and delivered them to Tampa General Hospital, USF’s primary teaching hospital and the USF Health faculty practice. They’re reusable and printing can easily be scaled up or down based on demand. This is in addition to the lab creating face shields to address the nationwide shortage of personal protective equipment.

“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 lab has produced 8,000 face shields since it started assembling them in mid-March. There are currently no plans to slow production.

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