The call for fabricated face masks came from the scientific community, but the answer has come from the educational community – and part of that answer has been at Everett High last week and this week.
STEM teacher Anna Seiders – along with some of her students who have followed from home – began using the STEM Lab’s two 3-D printers to make masks for front-line healthcare workers.
“I got an e-mail from a colleague who knew we have a 3-D printer and told me about a professor who had a model to print masks for healthcare workers,” said Seiders. “All you have to do is transfer the STL file onto your computer and then print the masks on the printer.”
The ‘Montana Mask’ was a free STL file promulgated by professor in Montana who was calling on all those with 3-D printers to begin an operation of printing protective masks that met the specifications for hospital use. The 3-D printers make plastic masks that are able to hold a filter and that can be re-used.
Last week, Seiders got the file and got permission to print it on the Everett High printers. On Tuesday, March 24, she was able to get access to the building to check on how the project turned out.
“I got to the building and Mr. Naumann and I went up to see how the project worked,” she said. “It worked on one printer, but not the other. I re-configured it and was able to put it so we could print two at a time.”
She showed Naumann how to prepare the printer so she wouldn’t need access to the building again, and now there is a small factory churning out masks every day at Everett High.
“We are excited to see how it is working out,” she said. “We can make two masks every seven hours. They are re-usable. They are good because they allow filtering…It’s an open source file so as many people as possible can access it and do the same thing. Even if each of us makes five, there’s 50 new masks we didn’t have before.”
She said they are working closely with the school administration to figure out where to donate the masks they are making, but for now she is concentrating on the process – and the unbelievable nature that the school 3-D printer has been called on in a national crisis.
“I could have never imagined this and I think it’s sad that a high school teacher is having to use school resources to make sure our health professionals are protected,” she said. “As a teacher, school is shut down and we’re working with students but having to sit at home. If there’s something we can do, we’ll do it. That said, I could have never imagined it would have come to this.”