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Waupaca Foundry

Culture - Jul 12, 2020

3D printed and it's an ear saver!

Mackenzie Morey | Waupaca Foundry

Ariel Bartel has been at Waupaca Foundry for seven years. She began her career in quality, and as of May 2020 became a tooling engineer technician at Plant 6. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering Technology Management and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Business Management.

Ariel wearing the 3-D printed ear saver.

Similar to handmade masks, PPE and accessories have become an upexpected hot commodity. Waupaca Foundry has used its 3D printer to supply frontline workers with face shield frames previously and is now using the technology for the comfort of its team members. Facemasks have been proven to help slow the spread of COVID-19; however, the straps can sometimes cause discomfort if the mask is not fitted correctly. Ear savers are small adapters that improve the fit of masks and make them more comfortable for long-term wear. 

Ariel's supervisor challenged her to solve this issue after a pattern shop employee suggested improvements on a current ear-saver design. "It was my first real project." Ariel changed the design of the ends to improve the hold. Now, she has been printing ear savers and providing them to her fellow employees. "It feels great to help people during these uncertain times." So far, about 60 ear savers have been printed. “It takes five hours to print 16 ear savers”. The ear savers are available to all team members.

In early January 2020, as COVID-19 was becoming a prevalent issue in China, Waupaca Foundry was already working aggressively to create COVID action teams and implement the proper response, policies and protocols for each of its places of operations.
The teams, filled with the company’s health and safety experts, developed several action plans to prepare for and prevent the spread of the virus. This included ensuring and preserving an adequate supply of personal protective equipment — including respirators — improving sanitization of high traffic areas within the company, restricting and eliminating travel, and screening of visitors prior to entering the company’s facilities.
"This is what I love [about Waupaca Foundry]; they allow projects like this one to help others." – Ariel Bartel, Tooling Engineer Technician

#3dprinting #etowah #safety

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