April 6, 2020 - Creating 3D Printed Masks for Local Healthcare Workers
Maranatha High School embarked on a project to help in the fight against COVID-19. The school’s TILE (Technology Integration Learning Environment) Lab, under the direction of faculty member Miguel Almena, is utilizing its 3D printers to create reusable protective face masks for medical professionals who are facing critical shortages of necessary protective gear. Mr. Almena learned of one such need first-hand from a friend of his wife who is a nurse at Kaiser Hospital in Downey. She shared that they were facing a shortage of protective face masks and requested Maranatha’s help with 3D printing about 80 or more high filtration masks.
Mr. Almena saw this as an opportunity for Maranatha to utilize its resources to serve the needs of others, part of the school’s mission statement. After all, the lab’s equipment was sitting unused while the campus was closed due to the “Safer At Home” order and was stocked with plenty of raw materials just waiting to be put to good use. Mr. Almena located information on a website profiling the work of Dr. Dusty Richardson, a neurosurgeon at the Billings Clinic in Montana, who was freely distributing a print file for a 3D mask he had helped create in order to support local hospitals across the globe.
Armed with the proper print files and a plan, and able to work remotely, Mr. Almena successfully sent the first test print from his home. Having determined his plan would work, he received approval from the school’s administration to begin printing the first batch of masks. Since each mask is reusable and can be easily sanitized, he also ordered disposable hospital-grade filtration squares which can be inserted into each mask. These will be delivered along with the printed masks to the nurse at Kaiser Hospital in a few days.
The CDC has recently approved “homemade masks” for crisis management and shortages of approved materials. The masks Maranatha High School has printed are about 80% efficient using MERV14 quality filtration that filters down to 0.3 microns. While such masks are not intended to replace N95 masks, with reported shortages impacting healthcare workers worldwide, this is one measure that Maranatha, and other schools with 3D printers, can take to join the fight against COVID-19. Until he runs out of funds or raw materials, Mr. Almena hopes to continue producing the face masks to arm more health care workers with necessary protective gear in their battle against COVID-19. Working together we can save lives.
Organizations that would also like to produce 3D printed masks to donate to health care professionals can obtain the files and information at makethemasks.com.