My friend Dan Shapiro is the CEO of Glowforge, which makes easy-to-use laser cutters. He sent this email to me yesterday about a cool project he set up to get one million "ear savers" made by Glowforge owners around the world.
At the start of the COVID crisis, I did not believe hospitals would use homemade medical equipment. Turns out I was very, very wrong.
We partnered with immunology experts, professors, and doctors to develop Ear Savers. It's a simple design that prevents the bruising that comes from wearing surgical masks all day.
Normally, mass-producing something even as simple as this can take months to design, produce, and distribute. But Glowforge did something different. We reached out to tens of thousands of customers, providing them with the designs for free so they could print them at home.
Then, we reached out to everyone in the US with a simple message: if you're wearing a surgical mask to take care of us, we can help.
We built matchmaking software to connect the people in need with Glowforge owners who had the factories to make PPE – in their own homes! Finally, we spun up our own factories to join in the effort.
We made more than one million ear savers together, in what I believe to be the first hyperlocal mass production exercise of its kind. This is like Diamond Age stuff: making the stuff we need at home, for our communities, in small batches that add up to factory-sized volumes.
We're also getting ready for phase two: we're ready to make ten million more.
Anyone wearing elastic-ear masks to stay safe can get Ear Savers for free right now at Glowforge.com. They're 100% free for nonprofits. For companies and for individuals, they just need to pay shipping and handling.
I'm really excited about the impact we're able to have with this!