When the Delaware County District Library’s Maker Annex closed in March due to the COVID-19 closures, the 3D printers kept on working. Soon after the library closed to the public on March 16, Delaware County EMS reached out to potentially put the 3D printers to work on creating personal protective equipment (PPE).
Technology Training Specialist Kellen Freeman began working with EMS to find, plan, and print some prototype masks to help with the N95 shortage.
A small working group began communicating through email and Zoom to discuss issues, concerns, and options for getting some options up and running. One of the first options to come out of this group was the face shields now being produced locally by Waterford Signs. With that project under way, the team began exploring face masks.
Several options were considered and tested that would use a solid mask but use a filter of N95 material that could be cut out from another mask. The designs would allow for about three filters to be cut out of one N95 mask, effectively stretching the supply threefold. The reason this was chosen was EMS had a supply of N95 masks that were considered expired because the elastic bands had deteriorated, but the filtering material was in fine working order.
Eventually, a mask designed by the Billings Clinic Foundation in Montana was chosen. After some tests and design tweaks from members in the group, tests indicated the masks would give a 100% seal, making them safe to use as a replacement to the standard N95 mask. The Maker Annex began production and several members of the group have been printing nonstop producing 3D printed masks.
Recently, the Battelle Foundation agreed to work with the group to test and certify the masks, as well as advise the group on how to sanitize and what kind and amount of time the masks can be used for.
The project has grown beyond just the Delaware area. Currently, the Maker Annex is only one part of a larger PPE creation group. Volunteers around the state are working to create gowns from non-permeable material, face shields, sewn face masks, and more.
“It has been incredibly rewarding to see people working to help keep people safe in these uncertain times,” Freeman said. “I’m proud to be a part of this group, and I’ve been impressed with the work everyone is doing.”
For those that are interested in helping with 3D printing, contact the Maker Annex via email at email@example.com. For those without a 3D printer who want to help with the ongoing effort, visit gofundme.com/f/ohiosaveahero to learn more and to donate.
Submitted by the Delaware County District Library.