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Checking In With Susan Koeppen: Amid Coronavirus Pandemic, Pittsburgh Student Making Ear Guards For Health Care Workers To Prevent Face Mask Irritation

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- A local high school student is using his 3D printer to help make ear guards for health care workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic.

When Andrew Pritchard, a sophomore at Central Catholic High School, learned face masks were causing problems for doctors and nurses, he knew he had to help.

"The elastic of the masks is attached around the ears, and it's rubbing and causing irritation and pain for people who are wearing them for such long periods of time," Pritchard said.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

So he started making ear guards using the 3D printer he has at home.

"I've made 400 ear guards so far," says Pritchard, "I run the printer 12 hours a day."

The guards allow a person to avoid putting the elastic straps around their ears.

Instead, the person attaches the straps to each side of the guard, which goes around the back of the head.

There are four notches on either side of the guards so users can adjust to fit their head size.

"I first sent them to my aunt who works at a hospital in Owensboro, Kentucky, because they were hit very hard there. And she distributed them to the nurses and doctors who worked there. Since then, I've given them to Allegheny Health Network, (UPMC) Magee (-Womens Hospital), some medical clinics, a grocery store and a manufacturing company," says Pritchard.

He plans to keep making ear guards as long as people need them.

If you would like help make ear guards or if you need ear guards, you can send an email to

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