Next generation mask clips - forever free designs

After two weeks of intense prototyping and testing, I’m pleased to introduce Gecko and Eagle, two next generation mask clips for healthcare workers using masks with elastic ear loops. A mask clip like this can make a huge difference by relieving stress on the ears. Most clips are simple S shapes which are not very comfortable, not adjustable, and more breakable, among other things.


These clips are:

  • appropriate for clinical use
  • suitable for sterile environments
  • reusable
  • adaptable
  • one size fits all
  • comfortable
  • stable
  • secure
  • strong
  • easy to put on and take off

The 1-piece Gecko clip is simpler and a bit easier/faster to put on. It is typically better for those with long hair. The 2-piece Eagle clip is more complex, but more comfortable for long time periods. It is typically better for those with short hair, or those who are bald.

I also had some design goals that aren’t directly mentioned in the materials:

  • I wanted designs that felt natural so that people can understand them quickly without reading instructions (I wrote instructions anyway)
  • I wanted clips to be easy to clean with a wipedown (meaning no scoring, no etching, no sharp interior corners or holes)
  • I aimed for the clip and the elastic to work together rather than to fight each other (for example, this is why the elastic attaches on the top on one side and on the bottom on the other side, and why the ends are concave)
  • I wanted to make sure it was sufficiently strong when cut from 1/8″ (3mm) acrylic, so as to keep material costs low and reduce laser cutting time
  • I wanted it to work for all hair types — long, short, bald, kinky (I was aware that clips were not comfortable with short or no hair and that kinky hair got caught on mask clips with little fingers; this goal is what made me realize I needed to make two different designs).
  • I wanted to reduce the risk of breakage (no small or thin areas, no little fingers sticking out, and no sharp exterior corners)

To accomplish all this, I compressed what would normally have been months of iteration into two weeks. My original plan was to make a single one-size-fits-all clip but I quickly realized that I needed to make two clips, because the needs of people with long and short hair are different. However, each clip is still one-size-fits-all. I couldn’t have done this without the Glowforge laser, which allowed me to rapidly iterate on prototypes (the final releases represent the 7th major version of the Gecko and the 5th major version of the Eagle).

Every part of both clips and every curve was carefully designed, tuned, and retuned. There’s nothing accidental anywhere in either design.

More info and the full design package is available at http://www.royleban.com/maskclips (includes design info, the free forever license, and cut files)

22 Likes

WOW!! Amazing details on everything. Great job and God Bless you

2 Likes

Very nice designs, though two things I keep running into is that sharp points focus strain and that which bends is harder to break, Vortex streets and palm trees are instructive.

1 Like

@rbtdanforth: I don’t understand what you’re saying. Do you think I have a problem or do you think I avoided one?

With elastic, there’s no way to avoid strain points, but the various curves serve to diffuse the strain a bit and reduce potential torque with movement of the clip.

As for flex, acrylic just doesn’t bend enough — any attempts to use flex just made it breakable. I did a test with 1/16" (which has more flex) and it was very breakable.

1 Like

If you have polarized sunglasses and a sheet of polarized film you can quickly see for yourself with a cut piece of clear acrylic that you hold in your hand applying stress of various types. The stress twists the polarizing and you see it as rainbows which was done before computers were able to do the FEA, and perhaps still, but after a while the eye starts picking the obvious out even without the test.

2 Likes

Yes, of course. I’ve observed exactly what you’re referring to (and I’m a photographer, and I have used polarized filters). But if we took this to the extreme, we would never make anything. I’m not trying to fight physics, I’m just trying to ensure that the elastic pulling against the acrylic causes minimal problems, and I’m using the design tools at my disposal — positioning of where the elastic pulls, providing curves to diffuse pressure, and having more material at points which are being pulled.

One thing that surprised me in the design process was that I expected 1/8" to be too weak. It wasn’t, especially given the actual design of the clips.

Obviously, acrylic isn’t the only potential material. Almost no material that any home-based maker could use can be put in an autoclave. The next level down in cleaning is soap and/or disinfectant. Acrylic is great for that and lots of clinical equipment is made from acrylic. Below that is 3D-printed materials, which can be porous and harder to clean. You probably have to dunk one of the 3D-printed masks that they’re making rather than just wiping it down.

I know there are some laser safe flexible materials. I don’t know about cleanability of those. The only one I know much about, Worbla, isn’t strong enough, at least not in the sheets I’m aware of.

There are already people out there making tens of thousands of mask clips, some of them from designs with major flaws. Glowforge is proposing making 2 million and the default is to score them with the Glowforge name so they’re harder to clean, Plus it takes 2.5x as long to make them with the artwork than it does without it. (Yeah, what were they thinking?) My strength is in design, not in making, and that’s where I can offer value here. I want everyone to make the best mask clips possible. If there are ways to improve my designs, I’m happy to hear feedback.

2 Likes

That was all I was trying to do.

thanks for sharing these and for putting so much thought into them! I’ll be making some and sharing with friends in the medical profession.

1 Like

I would suggest other materials that are flexible, and that dont succumb to alcohol based degradation

while I like your design and what if offers. I think your post is a bit self centered. I think any design that is available that helps our front-line personnel, be it your clips, the “s” hook, the adjustable hooks that are being posted, the ear saver design shared to us by glow forge. You make it sound like your design is the be all to end all. I’m not trying to be rude. I’m sure its a very good design, I’m sure you design stuff like this for a living or maybe you don’t. We are all trying our best as makers to help where we can. I appreciate the time you’ve put into designing these, I’m sure they will help many of us. And I’m thankful for you sharing the design and for anyone sharing their designs for mask hooks at the most needed time., but share the design, and be humble about it. We don’t need a major back story. Again Thank you for your time and effort, I hope that many people will use your design and get them to the right people.

4 Likes

I appreciate the feedback. Almost all laser-cut clips are made from acrylic. I wasn’t trying to fix that because I’m not an expert on materials and the only materials that I have are acrylics and hardwoods (and wood doesn’t work). My expertise is design and user experience. All that said, an early thought was that flexibility, even a bit of it, was good, which is why I tried 1/16" acrylic (and it failed).

If there is somebody here who knows a lot about and has knowledge of materials, I would be happy to work with them to test these designs and/or come up with a new design that works for such a material. My email address is my first name at my site name.

1 Like

Absolutely! And Glowforge building a matching system is awesome. It’s a shame their goal is to get their one particular clip with the Glowforge name on it out rather than clips in general.

When I posted on Facebook, I didn’t include the back story and information about all my design goals. Here, I thought people would be interested, and it’s a different sort of forum than the ones on Facebook. And, believe me, there’s more — I have a pile of prototypes, many with bad ideas in them, and a bunch broken from drop and stress testing (lots of different colors because I used whatever scrap I could find :slight_smile: ) I also thought posting more information here might solicit more feedback.

Apologies if it came off as egotistical.

2 Likes

Sorry, mentioned this in the other thread. .020” or thicker PETG works great for the application

9 Likes

I think you have a good solid design and I agree that yeah there’s no need to be engraving or scoring the acrylic or materials at all. It’s just opening up areas for more bacteria to sit and it weakens the materials. I wasn’t trying to be rude I think what you did is awesome.we all want to be able to help. While Im still working on my designing I can still make with my forge. We’re all in this together and we must stand United.

3 Likes

Yeah, I don’t have PETG (and I’d bet most GF owners have less of it) I use mine almost exclusively for creating original puzzles, so acrylic and hardwoods. Looking at the picture, I don’t think my designs would be ideal for PETG — I was designing specifically for the constraints of acrylic, which I knew almost all clips were being made from, and which I understand well.

Looking at that design, it’s clear how flexibility can be a good thing. I solved the comfort issue by making two designs, but I think we might be able to improve on it (for example, those fingers will be annoying to those with kinky hair. I’m willing to try but don’t have any material and I don’t really understand its properties. Let me know if you’re willing to work together. [Hmmm… was a piece of PETG in my original sample pack? If so, I would have one sheet.]

BTW, I didn’t think you were rude. Just honest. I appreciate it.

1 Like

Thank you for sharing! I work in a hospital and I will definitely be making some to take to work :heart:

1 Like

I have very curly hair that gets caught in everything. The only design I’d put anywhere near my hair is the S clips. That said, I appreciate that you put a lot of thought into your design.

Thank you for sharing. [I do think the expectation is that the design is included in the post here, but I’m sure someone else will say something if that’s the case.]

2 Likes

The fingers on the Gecko are designed to not catch hair and face in, not out. They also only face in one direction so the clip can be inverted if necessary. That said, I have very short hair, so cannot personally verify that it works. I did test with and got feedback from one person with very curly hair. Feedback was that it was fine. I didn’t meet most testers or even know what they look like, so all I have to go in is that I heard no complaints about it.

The Eagle has no fingers so should be fine.

If you are able to cut a set of the two designs and give me feedback, I would be very interested in learning about your experience. If I didn’t succeed, I’d like to see if I can improve the design.

You are welcome! The design package is a zip file with explanations, instructions, license info, 9 different cut files, etc. I believe it can’t be posted here (and, I’d prefer not to so I only have to do updates in one place, should updates be necessary). Everything is only a click away.

1 Like

I was really hoping that it would be Captain Picard. I would let him hold my N95 on. Engage!

3 Likes