Medical supplies are in high demand but short supply amid the coronavirus outbreak. Now a doctor is hoping to relieve the nationwide shortage by releasing his 3D printed mask designs.
Dr. Christopher Wiles, a resident physician at the University of Connecticut, said that he had used his 3D printer for various projects before but never thought he would use it for medical supplies.
“When I saw a chance to take my favorite hobby and what I do every day at the hospital and combine them to help this problem, I jumped right on it,” Wiles said.
Most 3D printers can create two full makes on one printing bed, a process that can take up to 12 hours, according to Wiles. The doctor provides a tutorial on YouTube that walks other 3D printer users through the step-by-step process needed to make masks at home.
In the video he noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has loosened its guidance to allow homemade masks or alternative face covers to be used as a last resort during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Right now, my initial goal was to create something that is better than a bandanna or a scarf,” he said. “The CDC said ‘If you run out of everything else, if you run out of N95’s, if you run out surgical masks, you can use a scarf or bandanna,’ which is maybe better than nothing, but I think I can do much better than that.”
He is teaming up with the physics department at the University of Connecticut to test the masks this week, focusing on air passage and how the masks filter material. He has already given 3D printers and other needed material to hospitals so they can begin making masks if needed.
“We have six printers going to one hospital, Hartford Hospital, and that will be up to nine in a couple days. And we bought 10 to start at St. Francis. And we have access to the University of Connecticut’s printers they already have for this,” Wiles explained.