St. Charles Part of Larger Team Helping Create 3D Printed PPE Masks

At the end of March, with schools and numerous businesses closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic spreading through the state and country, Andy Bruening of the PAST Foundation (https://www.pastfoundation.org/about-past) reached out to various mentors of robotics teams throughout Central Ohio, including St. Charles’ Joe Moyer (St. Charles faculty member). He asked for help designing and 3D printing Covid-19 masks vitally needed to help overcome the lack of sufficient PPE (personal protective equipment) for frontline medical workers (heroes).

 

Robotics team mentors collaborated with their own ideas and also adopted features used on other designs from across U.S. They consulted with other organizations within the community, such as EMS squads, in order to insure the safety, reliability, and usability of the masks.

After approximately two weeks of design and testing, a satisfactory mask was agreed upon. As production ramped up, more individuals and groups joined in the effort. Soon these masks gained the attention of individuals within The Ohio State University Medical Center (OSUMC) which is now receiving the masks, performing inspections and cleaning them, testing them for N-95 compliance, and finally packaging and distributing them.

 

The masks are durable and reusable.  The Central Ohio team can produce over 200 masks per week.  With the help of Cardinal alumnus Zachary Kranz ’18, the SC contingent is on pace to produce 40-50 of these masks a week using the three 3D printers in the Robotics Center and two in the school’s Physics Lab.

 

Moyer was given permission to proceed with the effort by the Diocese of Columbus with the strict request that only he or one other person produce the masks at one time to adhere to strict safety measures.

 

How does the 3D printing process actually work? (See compilation photo at bottom of text just below) A 3-D printer takes a CAD design (Step 1), which is then loaded into a 3-D printer (Step 2) which feeds strands of plastic into a print head, which is heated up to melt the material. The print head moves around very precisely in three dimensions dropping lines 0f plastic onto the print bed-the table, directing layer upon layer of plastic as programmed until the components are completed (Step 3). The parts are then assembled (Step 4) and packaged individually (Step 5). Bands or straps are added later by the end-user (Step 6).

 

Mask production will continue until the group is informed there is no longer a need, supplies become unavailable, those working on the project become unavailable, or the cost of production becomes unsustainable.

 

Currently the plastic filament is being supplied by each of the groups/people producing the masks. In SC’s case, the robotics team, the school and Mr. Moyer have donated funds for purchasing the filament. And while the PAST Foundation has secured a grant that can be used for production, those funds will need to be spread out and shared among many groups.

 

Thank you to the PAST Foundation, Mr. Moyer and all those involved in this life-saving effort!

 

Click HERE for a link to the photo below in a larger format…

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