Local family 3-D printing and donating ear savers for masks

HUMBOLDT — One Humboldt family has been using their access to a 3-D printer to make and donate ear savers for masks during the pandemic.

The family consists of the co-owners of Vinyl Expressions, Shirley Hoffman and Randy Hoffman, as well as their daughters Jessica and Amy Hoffman.

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“We seen that there was a need for them and decided to fill the gap,” said Randy Hoffman.

“Anytime there is a need we try to step up and do something. When there was the Broncos tragedy we printed out about 12,000 of the bumper stickers – prayers for Humboldt decals.”

The ear pieces are printed on their 3-D printer. Each piece is designed to fit on any mask that goes behind the ears.

“It keeps the strings or elastics from rubbing on the back of the person’s ears, which is a problem. It’s where the elastics are chafing peoples’ ears from wearing them for so long,” Hoffman said.

He said that his family printed approximately 350. About 100 of the ear pieces went to the Humboldt District Hospital, 50 to hospitals in Saskatoon, others went to pharmacies and local businesses.

“Whoever asked for them we made some for them.”

The design itself was from Creality, the 3-D printer manufacturing company.

Hoffman said the big part of the cost to make the ear pieces were but time, not money.

“It took me about three-and-a-half hours to print off 20 of them. The cost of the filament that runs the plastic isn’t that much.”

Hoffman said that at the present time he has no intention of selling the ear pieces.

“Everybody in our household is immune-compromised so we don’t want a whole bunch of traffic. That’s why we’ve been targeting the healthcare [sector], mostly, and have just recently started with businesses.”

The current problem he is trying to solve is how to safely distribute them.

Hoffman said at least one member of the community has already connected with their family about assisting.

Once the family figures out how to safely distribute the savers, Hoffman said he will be reaching out to the community members who have access to a 3-D printer and start a distribution plan.

“[I] haven’t thought about that step until I can get past this one.”

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