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Tampa engineer assembles 3D-printed strap to make surgical masks more comfortable

Tim Hileman donated 200 straps so far
surgical mask strap
Posted at 4:26 AM, Apr 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-09 13:06:36-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Tim Hileman’s day job is fixing drones in his Tampa workshop.

The engineer and owner of Fix ‘n Fly Drones is also very popular with Tampa Bay area medical professionals these days. His ingenuity took over when friend Desiree LaChance, a nurse at a local hospital, asked him for a hi-tech favor to help her and hundreds of coworkers.

Using a 3D printer, Hileman made over 200 surgical mask straps that take pressure off the ears, which normally get sore and chafed during long hours at work.

mask strap

It works sort of like a snapback ballcap. You can adjust the straps on the plastic piece for comfort, pulling them away from your ears.

“Oh we love them,” says LaChance. “They go like hotcakes when I bring them in.”

Hileman eyed a similar design and figured out the pattern super quick.

“I was like, let’s do it,” Hileman says.

wearing mask strap

A single plastic strap can be printed in about 20 minutes. Hileman says materials are relatively inexpensive, so he’s happy to donate time and money to a good cause.

“It’s not work for me,” Hileman says. “I just like coming in here, tinkering and helping people.”

For more information on the surgical mask straps, visit