Make Covid Stop: Making medical equipment, together

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)