Heeding the Call for Help, a Virginia Couple 3D Print Mask Shields
Jeffrey Heimgartner posted on April 03, 2020 |
A Virginia couple has been taking requests from health workers for N95 face masks.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact people across the globe in many different ways. As health professionals work nonstop to save lives, they are faced with a shortage of personal protective equipment to keep them safe. While big companies, including Honeywell and 3D printing companies, are helping to address the shortage, even a couple of people can make a difference.

Amy and Jeremy Filko, a couple from Virginia, have been steadily printing 3D shields to protect N95 masks, which are in short supply and are difficult to produce. These masks are designed for a one-time use. While not an optimal solution, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued crisis strategies to help battle the low supply, which includes using a mask multiple times.

Jeremy, a data scientist who has long pursued 3D printing as a hobby, learned from a friend in the medical field that the masks were being used for up to five days. The Filkos quickly began brainstorming ways they could put their two 3D printers to use.

Since the masks themselves are difficult to produce—they are created with an electrostatic nonwoven polypropylene fiber that filters a minimum size of 0.3 microns of particulates and large droplets—the couple began designing a face shield that could be used over the mask.

Jeremy and Amy Filko designed a 3D-printed shield for N965 masks. (Image courtesy of Amy and Jeremy Filko.)
Jeremy and Amy Filko designed a 3D-printed shield for N965 masks. (Image courtesy of Amy and Jeremy Filko.)

Within a week, the couple had created a prototype using ABS plastic, which is lightweight, strong and affordable. Weighing only 7 grams, the masks cost only 10 cents to produce. Each mask takes 38 minutes to print. After fulfilling their first requests, the couple incorporated recommendations from the front lines to make the shield wider and include air vents.

The couple continues to take requests for the shield and has produced more than 40. They ship four free masks for each request, as well as cover any shipping costs. They have also given their design to others, but strictly request that providers not be charged for the shields. To request the shields, or to help with printing them, visit the Filko’s Facebook page.

Interested in more ways people are working to make in impact during the coronavirus pandemic? Check out MIT Works on an Emergency Ventilator (E-Vent) Project and COVID-19| Mask shortage: how can we help?

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