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Employee Feature: A Passion for 3D Printing and Helping Others

J Gray 5x7

John Gray

NE Regional Design Technology Coordinator

“Two weeks ago my printer was running almost 24/7 for days on end. People were messaging me every day looking for 20, 30, 40 ear savers,” says John. “I keep getting small requests but the overall demand has slowed down, which is good, considering the supply of PLA is becoming more limited.”


As health care workers continue to wear face masks shift after shift, many have noticed irritation behind the ears where the mask constantly tugs. Luckily, there are solutions - ear savers.

Ear savers have become a hot commodity for anyone who regularly wears masks, ensuring they stay in place while not causing any pain from long-term use. Over the last month, John Gray, NE Regional Design Technology Coordinator, with our Buildings Group in Rochester, has printed over 600 ear savers for health care workers with his 3D printer.

John has always been a technology enthusiast and purchased his 3D printer to learn more about how it worked. He never imagined he’d be using it to supply health care workers with much-needed equipment.

Once the COVID-19 pandemic started he was in touch with a number of friends and family members in the medical profession and learned of a need for the ear guards as part of their PPE use. To-date, John has shipped over 600 to nurses in Florida, Rochester General Hospital, Strong Memorial Hospital and for the bank at which his Mother-in-Law works. While the demand has slowed down, requests continue to trickle in.

Printing Process

PLA (polylactic acid) is the 3D printing filament used to produce the ear savers, feeding into the printer like a plastic spool of thread. John likens production of ear guards to cooking. The process involves creating or procuring an initial design from a website like Thingiverse (the recipe), obtaining the right kind of filament for the product (the ingredients), then programming the printer with a series of print settings, like speed, layering and cooling (mixing ingredients) and printing. On average, it takes an hour to print one batch of ear savers, with 6 to 8 created per batch.

While John is humble about his efforts, they’re filling a big need in the health care community and making a difference for many.

What's Next

John’s passion for 3D printing extends into the office with the ADT group, where he’s eager to share its value with the team and clients. He’s printed models of the lobby ceiling and security desk for Parcel 2 in Rochester, Avon Commons for work in Philadelphia and the site and building for a Greece Central School District project, among others.

Tim Burke, an Assistant Project Manager, shares that the Greece Central School District 3D print supported the client experience with the project. “The print was unique and offered our clients an opportunity to see the big picture after working through so many of the details within the building.” And, he adds that “John’s interest in 3D printing has even inspired others (team members) to purchase and attempt 3D printing themselves.”

What will he do once the COVID-19 demand has dried up? John will likely continue printing for Bergmann needs, and creating fun models with his daughters.

Thank you for all that you’re doing for our health care workers, John! Your skillset is incredibly important, and we are excited to see how 3D printing continues to play a role in Bergmann’s technology transformation.