Plainfield East HS junior creates face mask ear guards with 3D printer

Plainfield East High School junior David “DJ” Enriquez Jr. is using his 3D printer to create ear guards for those serving on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Enriquez learned that people who wear masks for long periods of time such as doctors, nurses and firefighters, sometimes complain that their ears hurt from the straps of the masks. He wanted to do something to help, he said.

His mom, Jodi Enriquez, found a pattern for making ear guards with a 3D printer and showed Enriquez, who bought a 3D printer in middle school after learning how to use one in school, he said.

"Typically, I use my 3D printer recreationally, it is a hobby for me," David said in a news release from District 202. “I never thought I would be able to use it to help others.”

The ear guards are about as wide as the back of a head, Enriquez said. The ear guards are one size fits all with three prong settings to adjust the tightness of the mask.

Enriquez can print about four ear guards an hour and has made nearly 60 ear guards, with plans to keep making them as long as there is a need, he said.

Enriquez has donated ear guards to PT Solutions Physical Therapy of Romeoville, where he is getting physical therapy, AMITA Health Adventist Medical Center in La Grange, the Chicago fire department, and his father’s work, North American Corporation.

Jodi Enriquez said she could not be prouder of her son for helping those serving on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.