Many commonly used mask designs are secured by elastic straps looping around the posterior auricular region. This constant pressure and friction against the skin may contribute to increased wearer pain, irritation, and discomfort. The purpose of this work is to report a modified 3D printed mask extender to alleviate discomfort and increase mask wearability by relieving posterior auricular pressure from isolation masks.
Our institutional review board designated this project as non-human research and exempt. As part of resourcing 3D printing laboratories along with individual 3D printers to provide resources to healthcare workers, mask extenders were printed to relieve posterior auricular pressure from individuals wearing isolation masks. The authors modifed an existing mask extender, increasing its length with accompanying peripheral rungs for isolation mask securement. 3D printing was performed with Ultimaker S5 (Ultimaker B.V.; Geldermalsen, Netherlands) and CR-10 (Creality3D; Shenzhen, China) 3D printers using polylactic acid filaments. The author’s modified extended mask extenders were printed and freely delivered to healthcare workers (physicians, nurses, technologists, and other personnel) at the authors’ institution.
The final mask extender design was printed with the two 3D printers with a maximum 7 straps printed simultaneously on each 3D printer. Mean print times ranges from 105 minutes for the Ultimaker S5 printer and 150 minutes for the CR-10. 475 mask extenders were delivered to healthcare workers at the authors’ institution, with the demand far exceeding the available supply.
We offer a modification of a 3D printed mask extender design that decreases discomfort and increases the wearability of isolation mask designs with ear loops thought to relieve posterior auricular skin pressure and ability to control strap tension. The design is simple, produced with inexpensive material (polylactic acid), and have been well-received by healthcare providers at our institution