Xcel Energy develops ear protectors for health care workers

Xcel Energy employees are using 3D printers to create ear protectors for health care workers.

According to a news release from Xcel Energy, three nuclear employees wanted to find a way to make wearing protective masks more comfortable around the ears. They created a simple plastic extender that’s made with a 3D printer. The small piece of plastic connects to a mask’s elastic bands to lesson ear discomfort.

Using one company 3D printer, and two personal ones, the employees are able to make several hundred extenders per day. In addition to making the extenders for employees, they’re
making 2,000 extenders per week to donate to frontline health care workers working in hospitals and clinics. Each strap is made with the words “STAY STRONG” and “HERO AT WORK” as part of the design.

This week, Xcel Energy will distribute nearly 2,000 mask ear extenders to the Marshfield Medical Center (Eau Claire), Mayo Clinic Health System (Eau Claire and La Crosse), HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital (Eau Claire) and Gundersen Health Systems (La Crosse).