GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS) --
The 312th Training Squadron’s Special Instruments Training course instructors have begun using their skills to 3D print prototypes to supply the medical facilities in the area with N95 face masks and face shields.
A neurosurgeon in Billings, Montana, worked with a dental company to create reusable plastic N95 masks using 3D printers. In an effort to help protect those caring for sick individuals around the world, he made a model available online for a free 3D printable, high-efficiency filtration mask with a design that allows reuse of the mask several times due to the replaceable filtration device.
Instructors got the idea from Air Force Quarantine University, a public Facebook group for innovative learners to connect during the COVID-19 crisis, where they saw other organizations modeling and printing these supplies.
“We saw other people 3D printing medical supplies and we thought we should try printing things like face masks and face shields,” said Master Sgt. Manuel Campo, 312th TRS SPINSTRA flight chief.
SPINSTRA has an innovation lab containing four 3D printers as well as 3D modeling software. Although they are unsure of the needs of the 17th Medical Group and surrounding hospitals, they plan to continue to create these medical supplies in case they are needed in the future.
“We plan to present what we have created to the medical group to see if we can meet their needs and print what they need,” said Staff Sgt. Jonathan Bahr, 312th TRS SPINSTRA instructor.
Medical professionals wear personal protective equipment to protect themselves and minimize exposure. This PPE usually consists of a face mask, gloves, and goggles or a face shield.
“The most realistic option for us to make was the face shields,” Bahr said. “The purpose of the face shield is to extend the use of the face mask. The goal is to reduce the number of masks being used and thrown out after one use.”
In the future, if more masks and shields are needed to be printed, they plan to allow students to begin assisting in this project. Instructors have also reached out to other facilities on Goodfellow AFB with 3D printers to provide more medical supplies. There are even instructors with personal 3D printers providing more supplies from home.
“If we can use our skills to help, we plan to do so,” Campo said. “We want to do everything we can to help.”