Virginia high school uses 3D printers to make masks for nearby hospital


Arcadia High School uses 3D printers to create PPE masks for Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital
(photo courtesy Arcadia High School)

OAK HALL, Va. (WAVY) — Arcadia High School STEAM and Robotics teacher Chris Matthews decided to find a creative way to use 3D printers that would help a local hospital in need of face masks due to the coronavirus shortage.

The teacher recently learned about the lack of protective supplies at Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital and decided to take action. Knowing that some 3D printed masks do not provide the proper protection against bacteria, he did some research.

That is how stumbled upon the Montana Mask. A mask designed with an efficient filtration system created by Montana dentists Dr. Dusty Richardson, Dr. Spencer Zaugg, and Colton Zaugg.

The dentists even created a website to share the free design in an effort to help those trying to find ways to reduce the personal protective equipment shortage.

The Montana Mask design allows for each mask to be fitted to a person’s face and sanitized between uses, according to the dentist trio’s website.

After getting authorization from the school administration to use the 3D printers, Matthews got to work.

The goal was to test the masks first to make sure they were effective. So, with the help of his girlfriend, they made 12 masks and delivered them to Riverside Hospital.

The masks were a success and the printers have been running non-stop since the first delivery.

Matthews shared his project with his students on the school’s online enrichment page. He wrote a message that read: “Greetings everyone! One of the most difficult things to do these days seems to be sitting still! What have I been doing to keep busy? I set up a 3D printing farm to produce ventilation masks to help with the shortage.”

The Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Mathematics STEAM and Robotics team are also in on the project. The school set up a page for the kids to help out and follow along, showing them real-world applications for the printers along with teaching them about the importance of helping the community.

On the page, Matthews also wrote a Mark Twain quote to express to his students the importance of doing something like this: “Kindness is a language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” He added, “To that, one might add the phrase Arcadia students say to each other every day, We got you.”

The Montana Mask is not an FDA or NIOSH approved N95 replacement and 3D print masks guidelines can be found on the FDA website.

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