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NSWC Crane employees volunteer to 3D print hundreds of ear guards for healthcare workers

By Sarah K. Miller, NSWC Crane Corporate Communications | April 23, 2020

CRANE, Ind. – Several Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane) employees are 3D printing hundreds of ear guards to donate to healthcare workers in need. These employees are volunteering to use their own 3D printing machines and supplies to alleviate the pain medical professionals are currently experiencing while wearing masks for extended periods of time.

Tim Bliven, a Team Lead at NSWC Crane, says he has made more than 300 ear guards out of his home 3D printer.

“I’ve been making them for the past two weeks,” says Bliven. “The ear guards attach the straps of a mask so that they are not being held on with a person’s ears. With long-term use, the ears get very raw and tender. These ear guards alleviates that issue. It is important to me to do what I can to help the healthcare providers that are working to fight COVID-19.”

Eric Scott, a Section Supervisor at NSWC Crane, says he has been making hundreds of ear guards for anyone that needs them while prioritizing the current requests of medical professionals. Scott says he is using the guide posted by the National Institute of Health (NIH).

“I’ve been able to supply hospitals, nurses, doctors, nursing home staff, and home health care professionals,” says Scott. “I’ve been reaching out to find the current healthcare worker needs through personal networks; I’ve contacted people working in the field, pitch what I can make at home, and it has kind of taken a life of its own. Originally I was being asked for a few dozen straps, and now requests are coming in for 100 or 200 at a time.”

Brock McMullen and Casey Collins have also been making ear guards. McMullen, a Mechanical Engineer at NSWC Crane, says they were compelled to volunteer to help the community.

“We’re acting solely as concerned citizens that saw a need and are just trying to help in any way that we can,” says McMullen. “There are many across the nation that are printing these and we wanted to help. We’re donating everything that we are making.”

McMullen says this is an easy way to give back to those sacrificing in the medical field.

“We realize that the nation is going through hardships and while many are teleworking, we still see healthcare workers battling this virus tooth and nail,” says McMullen. “The least we can do is make some parts that provide a little comfort while they’re being the superheroes our nation and world needs. We’re more than happy to donate the plastic, use of the machine, and time to help out.”

Scott says everything he has used can be bought commercially.

“The internet makes it easy to connect with those who need the straps,” says Scott. “I had the means to make them and there was a need, so why wouldn’t I help?”

For more information from the NIH, visit www.nih.gov

For more information on making reviewed 3d printed ear guards, visit https://3dprint.nih.gov/collections/covid-19-response

About NSWC Crane

NSWC Crane is a naval laboratory and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) with mission areas in Expeditionary Warfare, Strategic Missions and Electronic Warfare. The warfare center is responsible for multi-domain, multi- spectral, full life cycle support of technologies and systems enhancing capability to today's Warfighter.

Join Our Team! NAVSEA employs a diverse, highly trained, educated, and skilled workforce - from students and entry level employees to experienced professionals and individuals with disabilities. We support today's sophisticated Navy and Marine Corps ships, aircraft, weapon systems and computer systems. We are continuously looking for engineers, scientists, IT and cyber specialists, as well as trade and other support professionals to ensure the U.S. Navy can protect and defend America. Please contact NSWC Crane Human Resources at crane_recruiting@navy.mil.