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Making Masks from Home Using 3-D Printing Technology of Nichols Elementary School

Nichols PPE Masks

Nichols Elementary School Secretary/Bookkeeper Stacey McNames was working with fifth grade students on their end of the year career project when the coronavirus pandemic forced all educational facilities to close.

“When the schools were shut down and the pandemic scare grew bigger, we noticed a group on Facebook asking anyone with a 3-D printer of any kind to download the print file and help make a mask that could be equivalent to a N95 mask,” she explained. “They gave all the instructions and materials needed to put them together.”

Since March 13, the unexpected final day of in-class learning for Bullitt County Public Schools, as well as all of Kentucky school districts, McNames has been churning out masks as fast as a 30D printer will produce them.

“The mask and the parts were printed with PLA filament on our 3-D40 Dremel printer. The print itself consists of four different parts,” McNames explained. “To date, we have sent our first two completed fitted masks to their new owners that work in a long term health facility. I have about six more printed that are partially assembled. It takes some time and patience to put them together. Plus, the glue can be a bit annoying at times when it’s all over my fingers!!”

The McNames household is under quarantine so she is putting them together on her own.

“My husband and my dad have given me some tips and pointers,” she said “Since they are not being used necessarily on the front line in a highly affected hospital, they have not had to be approved for use by a health agency.”

McNames was asked not to use the name of the facility the masks are being delivered to, but said her brother is a resident pharmacist there.

“He is the one that asked me if I would make some for him and his coworkers as they were dealing with a shortage of PPE,” she said. “They only had one mask each and had to recycle it for each shift. The masks we have made have a filter inside that can easily be changed each shift or even multiple times a day if needed. They are small and fairly inexpensive to obtain.”

McNames affirmed she will continue as long as there is a need and a request for the masks.

“It’s actually very satisfying to know that I can do this and it is beneficial to someone else’s job. And it WORKS!! That is a glorious feeling!” she smiled.

She said her family is coping but misses the normal school interaction with staff and students, and eating out at restaurants.

“We are actually doing quite well! We live in the country and have lots we can do out here. I just don’t care for the grocery shopping part!” she said.

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