Surgical Mask Ear Saver

So with all the maker community involvement in making things for the medical community I was wishing there was something I could make to help out. Not having a 3D printer kind of limits me and finding relatively inexpensive sheet materials for laser cutting was also a bit of a barrier.

Then I stumbled upon surgical mask ear savers. The ear savers are basically a piece of material that allows the ear loops of the masks to connect behind the head. This saves the back of the ears from chaffing from constant wearing of these masks.

There are numerous designs out there on thingiverse, but I found this guy who designed some with motivational sayings on the back for 3D printing.

Thingiverse files here:

All the files are 3D formats, which I haven’t ever worked with, but I spent some time this morning learning how to use TinkerCad enough to convert the STL design to SVG.

Was actually pretty simple: Import .stl file, rotate so the front was facing up and parallel to the workplane, press “d” to drop the back to the surface of the workplane, click “Export” and then click “SVG”. Note, Tinkercad exports the svg with very narrow stroke (line) widths that you can’t actually see on the screen. Had to open them in inkscape, increase the stroke widths and then resave them.

Next was to find a suitable inexpensive material to cut these from. Looking around on Amazon for a flexible sheet material I found this 4 pkg of kitchen cutting mats.

They are 12x15" and ~1mm thick. Not sure what they are made from, but I suspect polypropylene or polyethylene based on similar items from other sellers. A simple water float test should help me rule out if they are PVC for some reason.

Everything sizes out just right to get 24 pieces from each 12x15" sheet. So cut the sheet in half and cut 12 from each section. So they will price out at about $0.10 each.

I ordered the mats, but I’m not sure when I’ll get them. Because, even with Prime shipping, Amazon is prioritizing shipping on more essential things. The best they promise is 4/26, but I suspect I’ll get them sometime next week. I’ll provide an update after I get the mats.


Thanks to @dwburger I learned to convert 3D models to SVG using OpenSCAD (free, open source software often used for 3D printing).

For STL to SVG you can do this:

projection(cut=false) import("yourfilename.stl");

Then F6 to render, and File→Export→Export as SVG… and choose your file name.


I think those mats are polyethylene; at least, we have similar ones that I’m quite confident are polyethylene.

I’d be worried that cutting out those phrases out will tangle hair though. That could be painful! Simple might be better here?

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Possibly, I was thinking it would actually provide more “traction” to keep the piece from sliding around. We’ll see. After I make some I’m going to give them to my wife to take to work to see if any of the nurses are interested and hopefully get some feedback.

@NedMan here is a simple ear mask hook that can be made out of acrylic. Wood is not good because it cannot be disinfected quickly.

s-hook–3 inches-63nested.pdf (134.5 KB)

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Worse case if the lettering catches hair, tape is probably a simple enough workaround…


@NedMan I found these hooks that are adjustable.

adjustable hooks


Hmm…are two of those meant to be linked together?

They really do not have to be very long but I am sure you could stretch the design a bit if needed.

I was just wondering because the design seems a bit wonky for using just one as far as adjustability goes. It looks to me like it was designed to hook two together?

Edit: Nevermind I figured it out :slight_smile:

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Did a mock up of the adjustable S design @HalfNormal shared to convince myself how it worked :grin: Styrofoam cylinder, straight pins, rubber bands and a cardboard cut hook. Adjusts from the left side. I guess the right side is more open to make unhooking easier while the left would probably retain easier so the hook would be harder to lose.

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And if you are left-handed you put it on the other way? :grin:


Sure just flip it around :slight_smile:


I have lots of lefty family members… :slight_smile:


The narrow neck on that second hook spot was bugging me so I tweaked it.


Also here is a style with a hole for a ponytail.


Very nice! Most people do not realize that I have hair down to my waist, it just starts in the middle of my back!


Had some 2mm cast acrylic on hand so I made one. Seems strong enough.

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Cut 69 from a 8x10” piece of 2mm acrylic.

@mcdanlj did you want some?

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No thanks, I can print what I need. I was more saying that having lots of lefty family members both makes me aware of things that assume a right-handed world and used to lefty self-deprecating humor. I grew up as a right-handed person using left-handed scissors, so I developed empathy early for the typical left-handed experience.

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