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YSU student makes mask straps for frontline workers

The mask straps are meant to alleviate ear pain that healthcare workers may experience as a result of wearing a face mask for long hours. The cost of the straps has been covered by more than $600 in donations.

[EDITOR'S NOTE — Difference Makers articles share stories of the local heroes making a difference during the extraordinary times of the COVID-19 pandemic. This section is made possible by Eastwood Mall and named in honor of Mark Eckert, who made a difference in the Mahoning Valley.]

YOUNGSTOWN — John Galvin, a senior information technology major at Youngstown State University, used his downtime during the stay-at-home order and his personal 3D printer to make 1,500 mask straps for healthcare workers at the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I had to buy a second 3D printer to keep up with all of the orders,” he said. 

The mask straps are meant to alleviate ear pain that healthcare workers may experience as a result of wearing a face mask for long hours. 

“After the long hours [wearing the masks] the back of your ears can rub raw and start bleeding …  So [the mask straps] help protect your ears against all the wear and tear that the masks do,” Galvin said. “The other thing was some masks are actually too big for people. So with the straps ... [they] fit their face better.” 

Galvin has donated all of the mask straps at no cost to medical workers and has funded the project through a Go Fund Me page

“I've received over $600 in donations so that’s helped the cost quite a bit,” he said. “So far luckily the donations have covered everything.” 

Galvin initially posted about the mask straps to social media to gauge interest. From there, Galvin open-sourced the strap design online and recruited his mom to help his cause. 

Now, he’s providing mask straps for local nursing homes, pharmacies, dentist offices and hospitals. 

Even though Northeast Ohio-based hospitals, such as Mercy Health’s St. Joseph Warren Hospital, Cleveland Clinic, Hillside Rehabilitation Hospital and a variety of University Hospitals, have been the main beneficiaries of Galvin’s mask strap donations, he has also filled orders from Pennsylvania, Florida and Wisconsin. 

All orders are organized through Galvin’s professional Facebook page, Chromaticity Technologies, or via email to

“Chromaticity Technologies came from my passion for lighting, stage special effects and audio,” Galvin said. “Chromaticity currently provides custom devices services such as props and controllers for haunted houses and escape rooms.” 

Galvin said it’s taken him a month to fill all 1,500 orders. After printing, he washes and disinfects the mask straps and packages them for shipment. He can print 16 straps in three hours.

Once the mask straps are delivered, Galvin said he’s kept in touch with various recipients to get feedback. Including “helpful pointers and suggestions to make it better.” That’s how Galvin discovered a need for face shields from local dentist offices and nursing homes. 

Now, Galvin said he is working on 3D printing a visor that will attach to plexiglass to create a face shield for medical workers to use. 

“The face shields I’m actually selling because they are a lot more work and cost a lot more than the masks straps do,” he said. 

However, Galvin said he has not set a cost for the face shields yet. 

Galvin said he is ultimately glad he can use his knowledge of 3D printing to help frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.