Back in February, when COVID-19 was starting to dominate the news, I was worried. Very, very worried. And I didn’t know what to do about it.
I was worried about how to keep my family safe, how to keep the team here at Glowforge safe, and how to help the people in my community.
It feels like it was years ago now, but you were there. You remember that feeling of confusion and dread.
My wife and I decided to keep our family at home, and by early March, Glowforge’s leadership made the decision to close the Glowforge office – just as soon as we realized how big of a problem this was going to be. But beyond keeping my family and my coworkers safe, I felt helpless.
And that’s a terrible feeling.
So at Glowforge, we decided to apply our company’s combined know-how to the problem. It helps when you have a PhD immunologist on staff, and customers who run the gamut from mechanical engineering professors to heart surgeons.
That’s how we created Ear Savers.
An Ear Saver is a little piece of acrylic that protects your ears when you wear a surgical mask, and it makes a big difference.
The team here at Glowforge started making them ourselves with our own Glowforge printers at home and giving them away.
Then, we asked Glowforge owners to help. We set what we thought was an ambitious goal: print and give away 1 million Ear Savers.
We sent out an email to our customers, and within seconds, people volunteered to help. Seconds.
And they delivered. That commitment didn’t let up.
As of a few days ago, the Glowforge community has printed and delivered over 1 million Ear Savers.
(1,492,560 to be exact.)
Every single one of those Ear Savers went to an essential worker on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis.
It’s been a whirlwind few weeks, but here’s what I learned:
- I wasn’t the only person feeling helpless. From across the country, Glowforge owners wrote in to tell me how they were in the same boat. For them, printing Ear Savers was a chance to do something. A chance to make a difference.
- Rapid prototyping and iterating isn’t just for giant megacorps – we were able to go from idea to final product in days. It’s easy to print hundreds of experiments if each print only takes a minute.
- When supply chains collapsed in March, it was local makers who picked up the slack. The ingenious ways I saw Glowforge owners procure materials and solve local problems… there are too many to count.
- Nothing will bring you closer to your community than the simple act of support. We may all be stuck at home, but that seems to paradoxically bring us together. My kids have been delivering Ear Savers to the essential workers in our neighborhood, and I’ve been dropping off deliveries to our local clinics.
- The doctors and nurses, delivery drivers and janitors, grocery works and so, so many more really used the Ear Savers. Just because something is made with good intentions, that doesn’t automatically mean it will help. But every day, we get more requests for Ear Savers from workers who’ve seen friends and coworkers using them. They work.
That’s why we’re not done making Ear Savers.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an intimidatingly-large check to pay for massively expanded factory capacity to make more Ear Savers. A lot more.
We’re ready to make ten million more.
And we’ll give them away until this is all over.
If you or your organization needs free Ear Savers, you can request them here.
And if you want to join the effort to print, sign up here. We’ll match you with someone in your community who needs help right away, so they don’t have to wait for us to ship from our warehouse.
To the Glowforge owners who combined to print over 1 million Ear Savers already, thank you. I am so, so grateful.