Lowcountry Strong: West Ashley High School using 3D printers to make masks for healthcare workers

Lowcountry Strong: West Ashley High School using 3D printers to make masks for healthcare workers

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - There is a big need for masks for healthcare professionals during the coronavirus pandemic.

Some hospitals have asked for the community’s help to donate masks or help fix older masks. Innovators at the Medical University of South Carolina came up with a design to 3D print masks and they are hoping anyone with a 3D printer will help.

“The demand for these pieces of protective equipment is just so high right now all across the country," MUSC senior designer and program coordinator Joshua Kim said. “We want to get as many masks and cartridges in the hands of medical professionals and people who need them as possible, as fast as possible.”

The president of the West Ashley High School Parent Teacher Organization reached out to the school’s principal to ask if this was a possibility.

“We jumped all over it," principal Ryan Cumback said. He got permission from the school district to get inside the school and started printing. “This is exactly what this room is for and this technology is for, is to help society and people in need. That’s what we’re doing and it’s a great experience for everybody.”

Cumback and mechatronics teacher Nick Holmes have been stopping by the school every few hours to start the printers. While the students are not in the building, they are also helping from home.

“We have several students at their houses printing some of the smaller pieces on their personal printers,” added Cumback. The parts are then assembled, and because they are plastic, they can be washed with soap and water and sanitized. So far, the school has made more than a dozen masks and over the weekend, Xerox reached out to offer their 11 3D printers.

The challenge of 3D printers is the time it takes to print. One mask could take anywhere between four and seven hours.

“That’s why we want to crowd-source and have as many printers churning these things out as possible,” added Kim. "This project is only going to be possible if everyone works together.”

Staff at MUSC are constantly updating the prototype. You can find the files needed to print from your home or business by clicking here.

The goal moving forward it to keep updating the prototype and spread the word to people around the country.

If you know someone or a group of people making the Lowcountry a better place during this time, you can tell us about it by filling out this form. You can also email Abbey O’Brien at aobrien@live5news.com and you might see them recognized on Live5News.

VIDEO: Lowcountry Strong: West Ashley High School using 3D printers to make masks for healthcare workers

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