FAIRMONT, W.Va. – When the West Virginia National Guard put out the call for basic medical supplies, Pierpont Community and Technical College was ready to respond. The college’s Drafting and Design program is using 3D printers to produce reusable masks, with replaceable filters, for healthcare workers in West Virginia.
“I called Chris Toothman, my program coordinator, and said ‘I know you have 3D printers in the lab, can you do this?’ and he was really excited about it,” Dean of Business, Aviation and Technology Dr. Kari Coffindaffer stated on WAJR’s Talk of the Town with Dave & Sarah.
Not only was it possible, but the faculty and staff jumped into action working with a template and design provided by the WV National Guard to create the plastic masks that allow for a small N95 filter, which can be replaced, allowing the face shield to be used over and over.
“If you have to, you can take a regular N95 mask and cut it into six sections so, with this plastic holder you could multiple that mask six times,” said Coffindaffer.
The first masks were printed in the lab on Thursday and by the next day, Pierpont received the go-ahead from the WV National Guard to begin producing the as many masks as possible for distribution to areas of the state where they are most needed.
“It looks a little like Santa’s workshop in there,” Coffindaffer said of 3D printing lab where the masks are being created.
According to program coordinator at Pierpont, Chris Toothman, a volunteer army of colleges and businesses are kicking in to produce the much needed masks. They’ve even dubbed themselves the “Mask Manufacturing Army.”
It’s a new brand new venture for the 3D printing lab, which typically prints prototypes for industry such as valves and gear assemblies.”
Other similar efforts are going on across the state.
A team of experts at Mon Health System are 3D printing ventilator parts to be used in emergency situations, allowing two patients to be served by one ventilator. The team has also developed a cost-effective face shield that can be made with easily accessible house hold materials.