3D Printed Mask Project

This page is going to contain information about the 3D printed medical mask project. There will be links up near the top, but the main part of the page is going to be a narrative from Mr. King about the project.


Billings Project Link

Our design files for the project

Folder for images about the project

Ohio Save a Hero GoFundMe Campaign

For students, please post ideas and questions in the discussion on your class Schoology page. For team 1014 members, there is a channel in the GroupMe about this project. Mr. King and Mr. Glaubitz are both on the Slack channel used for communication between all of the various groups involved in the project.

FRC Teams Involved: 128, 1014, 3324, 4144, 4269, 6927


March 26

I have started work on a medical masks project, following this design from a hospital on Billings. I was approached earlier in the week by my sister-in-law, who is working with her neighbor, who is a doctor and DSHS alum, about 3D printing medical masks to deal with the shortages we are experiencing with PPE for medical workers and first responders.

Before I could even send a post to the robotics team, Alex Glaubitz and some other team members had started discussing just such a project. Now the robotics team members have printed some of different sizes for evaluation by potential end users. The FTC team and the Robotics boosters are kicking in money to buy PLA for team members with printers to print masks once we have a final design set. I got permission to use the new lab at Emerald Campus to print as well. We are pursuing a Dublin Innovation Grant to buy more supplies. This project now involves a number of central Ohio schools and robotics teams, as well as professionals from a variety of organizations representing end users. In particular we are working with members of the PAST Foundation and FRC Team 3324 the Metrobots. Here is a link to one of the original prototype prints.

Even if you have no 3D printer at home, you can still help us on the this project. There will likely be a period of redesign and tweaking. We will also have a lot of project management issues to work through. We need to get the material for printing, then get the masks to a central location. We need to get the elastic material to fit on people's heads, and the filter material. You are going to get a chance to see a very real world engineering project spin up and play out, while being involved in the process. Please learn what you can from it. It will give you valuable experience.

March 28

Over the last two days this project has been speeding along. Columbus Industtries, a filter material supplier, has suggested some potential problems, one being inadequate air flow. They suggested a design change.

Here is an image of redesigned prototype.

This link will take you to the design files in a Google Drive folder.

The larger aperture allows for more air flow through the filter material.

A working group of physicians and EMS personnel discusses potential problems with fit and comfort, and ideas are being discussed to improve those. One of the ideas is to print out of ninjaflex material, which is not rigid, but is more expensive and a little more difficult to print than other materials. Another idea was to print out a ninfaflex seal for the edges of the mask. This seems like it might be a more practical idea.

We are also investigating printing face shield brackets in the interim. If we are able to find material for the face shields we will also work on producing those.

March 29

The group has been discussing the project on Slack, as different people and organizations work to solve some of the smaller problems with fit, seal and breathing. Columbus Industries, a filter material supplier, has created a modified design with a larger opening and filter frame to improve airflow. The group from Delaware County EMS has been investigating different solutions for improving the fit and seal around the face. This includes printing the masks out of NinjaFlex material or printing a seal strip from NinjaFlex. We also have looked at weather stripping seals and bike inner tube seals.

We were also asked by a Dublin resident who works at Nationwide Children's Hospital to look at creating a substitute for the thermometer covers used at Nationwide Children's Hospital. We found that trying to print something with a shape like that just doesn't work for plastic filament printers. The group brainstormed some ideas, such as using straws sealed at the end or tubing like this melted at the end.

We are waiting on the group from OSU and Delaware EMS to finish their fit testing, and then we will settle on a design and start printing as many of these as we can.

March 30

Today began with a couple of minor successes in field tests for sealing the masks. As well as a couple of new suggestions. One was the use plastic dip along the edges of the mask as a sealant. Another was to try laser cutting neoprene for seal strips. The group is working hard on finding one or more good solutions, and on finalizing a mask design so that we can go to full production.

The folks at Delaware EMS noted that the Columbus Industries design was good, but was leaking a little around the nose bridge. Alex Glaubitz redesigned the nose (not as sharp a peak) and submitted the design change to the group. Travis from Delaware EMS will be printing one out, as well Alex. Blaine from the BotCats (128) is going to print a seal for it from NinjaFlex. Dr. Bruenig from the Metrobots is working on tire rubber and neoprene seals. Daniel from Columbus Industries came up with a substantially different design. There is a lot cross collaboration and discussion going on. Soon there will be a lot of printing going on.

This evening I picked up some Ninjaflex seals from Blaine (BotCats) and dropped them off with the Glaubitz family so that one of Travis' (Delaware EMS) coworkers can pick up the seals and the redesigned mask for testing.

March 31

Today has been a day of testing so far. Mostly of different seal possibilities. This is the point in a project where it is easy to feel a little frustrated, since there was so much rapid progress, and it all seems to have slowed down. But the testing going on now is essential if we want masks that will be usable and make a difference. As soon as we have settled on a design or designs we will be able to ramp up printing.

Toward the end of the day our group was joined by a professor of mathematical medicine about possibly supporting an effort to supply NCH with PPE parts or his lab helping with our project. Right now it seems like the central Ohio maker community is geared up to help. Once we figure out what the needs are that we can help with, we will be off. For team 1014, we may be drawing on the laser cutter design expertise that some of you have developed, as well as other machining skills.

I also talked with someone working on another part of this project, creating gowns. They have a group ready to start cutting and sewing fabric and are rolling out a campaign to fund that effort. If you don't have a 3D printer but do have a sewing machine there is another avenue to help. There are going to be unforeseen challenges, and ideas for overcoming those will be another way you can help even if you don't have equipment to make things directly.

Another option came to our attention late today. It involves changing a scuba mask by taking off the snorkel and adding a filter to it. These would be relatively expensive to obtain, but are made so that the mask can be sterilized and reused. The filter pieces can be reused or replaced as appropriate. We also got an offer of help from someone from the Columbus area who now lives out of town.

April 1

We have started printing masks using the Billings model. We got in an order of filters precut for that model, so we are going to produce masks for it, and pair the masks with the filters. We are still working on possible seal designs. In another part of the larger project, they have started cutting acrylic for face shields. I had a meeting with the broader group tonight. They have material coming in for 2500 reusable gowns and are in the process of creating 400 face shields. We are looking a range of 1000 or so masks. It is looking like after this initial run using the Billings model (because of the precut filters we have) we will be switching to the Columbus Industries model. The group is going to settle on that in the next day or two and then start printing. We may change the material for sealing the edges but we will need the masks in any event.

April 2

We just tipped over into full scale production for this project. It looks like the first run of masks may go to Honduras. We have a contact for a partner organization of OSU that is working in Honduras with zero PPE. So we hope these masks can help them. The whole group will then be turning out masks and we will pair the masks with filter material, sealer material and the elastic for the straps. We also made contact with some people from other areas in Ohio who were asking questions about models.

April 3

As with any such project, there will be fits and starts. The precut filter material from Montana won't work for the Columbus Industries model masks. Since we have a bunch of it, we are going to switch back to making Billings model masks and send those to Honduras. The precut filters will be particularly useful there for helping us get those kits together. Then we will go back to producing the Columbus Industries models for deployment here. We are still working out the best materials for sealing the edges of the mask. Thermoforming helps make the seal with face secure, but someone added for comfort is needed. Right now silicone molds, surgical tubing and weather stripping are all being used. It is likely that the final solutions will be a mix of these as determined by available materials and personal comfort.

April 5

Today a small group (four of us) went to the PAST Foundation, and from a (social) distance put together 63 masks for Ecuador. We have a complete box of 50 ready, and 13 more in another box. (Pics below). We ran into a problem with the precut filters. They are a little too small. When you press fit them in, you should see a little bit of material sticking out around the seam so that the filter is secure and won't come out. This video shows that the filters are a little too small. We are looking at some work arounds. The first one we attempted was adding a slightly larger fabric square to provide the secure fit. This worked for fit, but cut down on air flow. We are now looking either for a better material (we just used an old t-shirt for the prototype) or maybe cutting a hole in the middle of the large piece of fabric so that it acts more as a gasket seal. Ideas are welcome. BadRobots you can contribute ideas in the GroupMe chat. Engineering students you can contribute ideas there or in the class discussion on Schoology.

April 6

I talked to a local reporter (This Week News) about this project. Hopefully some press coverage helps with finding more people. We need to pack the order of masks for Honduras by Thursday morning. So we will be furiously printing masks for that. Afterward our subgroup will join the rest of the group in completing the masks for the Delaware County EMS. We picked up a couple more people willing to use their printers to support the effort. We are going to be pressing ahead for the foreseeable future. In a side note, because of the machinery developed by Battelle to clean N95 masks, some hospitals are not requesting clips (here are some examples) to help relieve ear strain from wearing masks all day.

April 8

We are really scaling up the printing now. We have people from Dublin, the PAST Foundation, Metro Early College HS, Granville, Worthington, Grandview Heights, St. Charles, Jonathon Alder, Delaware County EMS, Ohio State and Columbus Industries working on the project now. People from John Carroll, Honda and Kaiser Aluminum have just reached out to us. Engineers at Owens Corning in Granville are producing face shields. That is a task that some more of us may be taking up. Another big group in Granville and beyond is producing gowns. The GoFundMe campaign supporting all of these projects is rolling. We have Dublin Innovation and Serve Ohio grants supporting us. As well as the budgets of some robotics teams and school engineering programs. Tomorrow morning I will be working with a small and social distant group finishing assembling and packing masks for Honduras. Our order for Delaware County EMS should be ready soon as well. The Glaubitz family found that they could use a Cricut cutter to make ear strain relief clips for masks. This has been a truly gratifying project. I am grateful to all of you helping out, whether by printing, with suggestions and ideas, with fundraising and with general support.

April 9

A small group of six (two of us from 1014), went to the PAST Foundation today to finish assembling and packing the masks for Honduras. We had a total of 189 masks. (All of the Billings Model). There are almost 50 Columbus Industries masks already at the PAST Foundation, with many more already printed and by the end of the weekend we should be over 200, ready to go to the Delaware County EMS Department. Special thanks to Dr. Bruening of PAST and Dr. Greene of OSU for their efforts in organizing this. Now we will be printing the Cols. Inds. models non-stop for a while. If you find yourself in need of more PLA for the masks, please reach out to me.

April 11

We are really rolling along now on the project. We have teachers, students, robotics team members and others from all over Central Ohio (and beyond) printing masks now. School administrators are giving permission for teachers to take printers home in order to print masks for this. Our team and the Metrobots have obtained grants for PLA to share with people printing masks. There are more requests coming in for the masks as well. Today I talked to a firefighter friend who wants to talk about help, after this is over, setting up a small DIY shop at his firehouse for the future, so that they could quickly make stuff for themselves if needed. We may help with that project. One of our alums in NZ saw this project and forwarded it a friend of hers in Jordan who needs masks and has access to printers and filament. I am trying to get a small, older CNC mill working to cut ear relief clips and potentially face shield parts. Another of our alumni has jumped into the project with his printer. (Thanks Adam.)

April 13

Today I picked up masks in Dublin and took a total of about 60 down to PAST. There were over a hundred there waiting to be picked up by the representative from the Delaware County EMS. The project is really taking off. Today we picked up three more volunteers with printers willing to help. Mr. Glaubitz bought some more PLA and I picked up some from Dr. B via the PAST Foundation. We are hopefully entering a period where we will be able to steadily crank out masks. There are plenty of requests for them coming in now.

April 15

In the last two days 7 more people have joined our mask printing efforts in Dublin. I have spent a good amount of time driving around passing out rolls of PLA, and the Glaubitz' have graciously let their porch continue to be our drop site. There are printers all over central Ohio running night and day producing masks. We have also had a couple of preliminary inquiries about other items we might print. We also had a story come out in This Week News about the project.

April 21

Sorry it's been almost a week since I last posted. We have been in a "print a lot of masks" grind the whole time. We picked up more people with printers, and even had someone buy a printer for this effort. In Dublin we are over 400 masks produced (actually by the time I write this we are probably over 500 masks) and the whole group is close to 1000. Here is a shot of the masks waiting to be picked up yesterday at PAST. Two full totes and two garbage bags full of masks. We are now looking at getting some more filter material and finding other groups in need of masks.

Yesterday we also had another idea come up. When we start getting back to "new normal" that is likely to include face masks in public for a quite a while. Lots of great efforts have been made to sew face masks, but we will need masks for everyone. Realistically more than one for everyone. So now 1014 and 3324 are collaborating on designing a simple mask with a 3D printed frame that can be combined with a piece of cloth (old t-shirts, washcloths, sheets) to make a comfortable mask that can be washed. The cloth can be quickly replaced and laundered. So one t-shirt or pillow case could make a bunch of covers, allowing someone to quickly swap the cloth as needed. The intention is to have a design that could be quickly printed. We could effectively allow schools, for example, to make masks for all of their staff and students if needed. Think of all of the old Bad Robots t-shirts our team has. We could provide masks and material for any groups or individual in need of masks to get back to work or interact in public.

Team, let me tell you how proud I am. This is the point in any project like this where you are usually starting to lose steam. Things have been running for a couple of weeks with no really issues. It isn't as new or as fun. But we are not only still plowing ahead, we are picking up new people with printers all the time. You are kicking around new ideas and keeping your teammates engaged.

April 23

We have picked up a couple more people with printers. Dr. Bruening from the Metrobots now has 7 printers running at his house producing these. Another pickup from PAST will happen Monday, so I will be arranging a pick up from the Glaubitz house on Sunday some time. I anticipate an even larger pile of masks at the PAST Foundation than were there this past Monday.

We are proceeding with designs for the "every day masks" project (see the comments from April 21) and are hoping to collaborate with 3324 over the weekend or at the start of next week on design ideas.

April 28

On Sunday I picked up a whole bunch of masks from the Glaubitz house. On Monday those and a bunch more (over 200) were dropped off at the PAST Foundation. We have people all over Dublin helping on this project. I have made filament supply drops at nine houses. I am so grateful for all of your hard work. We have Dublin residents who work in other school districts working on this project. We have friends with robotics teams all over central Ohio involved. And we have made new connections with people and organizations not associated with schools or robotics who are working on this and the associated projects. I talked to my brother a couple of days ago as he was driving an order of gowns and face shields to Fremont Ohio. I saw Mr. Karns, the WorBots lead mentor as he pulled out of the PAST Foundation dropping off a load of masks. I met Dr. Harasaki, my brother's neighbor and a Scioto alum, who was instrumental in getting this project rolling. Ms. Schrewe, a Jonathon Alder teacher took printers home from work to help. It is truly a group effort.

Speaking of group efforts, thank you Alex, Ria and Jackie for agreeing to work with three Metrobots students on a presentation for the virtual conference for Ohio FIRST on May 9. Teams all over the state are going to talk about what they have been doing and not doing this year. Sharing experiences with seasons cut short, and for 40% of the teams, never even getting to compete once. The Bad Robots and Metrobots are going to represent all the central Ohio teams working on this project.

April 30

Alex Glaubitz had the idea of reaching out to the food pantry in Dublin to see if they need masks. Particularly given the recent recommendations, this could become more difficult for food pantries operating on a limited budget. I reached out, and they were interested. So we are in the process of determining their mask needs, and plan to be able to supply them. The larger group is going to reach out to other pantries. I have already made contact with one in Licking County. So this is looking like it will be the next step in our project.

May 4

I picked up another large load of masks this morning and took them to the PAST Foundation. There are already a lot of masks there. When I left there were three 18 gallon plastic bins and several garbage bags all full of masks. I will be taking some masks to Licking County later in the week for the food pantry there. Alex is working to figure out the Dublin Food Pantry's needs and then we will print masks for them. Also this past Friday, Alex, Ria, Jackie and I participated in an online conference with students and mentors from the Metrobots (3324) to plan for the collaborative presentation at the Ohio FIRST FRC Virtual Roundup for Saturday May 9. I would also like to note that many of our alumni are also participating in this effort. Once again team, I just want you all to know how enormously proud I am of you.

May 6

We heard today that masks were given to the Macedonia FD, Mogadore EMS and Hocking Township FD. They are headed all over Ohio now.

May 7

I got an email from our district Hearing Impaired specialist today asking about possible solutions for masks with clear panels for the teachers of students who lip read. The team is already working on brainstorming ideas. This is a real problem with a manageable scope where we might be able to provide solutions. So if you are not involved in the discussion on the GroupMe, jump in. I think the 1014 Idea Lab is in high gear right now.

May 8

We had our second planning meeting for the collaborative 3324/1014 presentation for the Ohio FIRST - FRC Virtual Round Up on May 8.

May 9

The virtual round-up went very well. The 1014 and 3324 students (Jackie, Alex, Ria, Drew and Raissa) were very solid. They explained the project well, and smoothly integrated each of their segments.

May 10

Our team members stepped up and volunteered to assemble 200 face shield kits. When I brought home the face shield kits from Granville I asked for four volunteers. Less than an hour later I was driving away from Coffman having handed out all of the kits. We also got word of deliveries of masks to Regional and North Lawrence EMS. Alex is still working on the masks for the Dublin Food Pantry and the delivery for the Licking county food pantry is ready to go.

May 13

I got some more face shield parts to assemble dropped off today. So we will need to get those out to team members. I was also contacted by someone from the OU Physicians Assistant program in Dublin about helping them with head bands for face shields for their students.

May 18

We have begun getting masks to some other groups, while still sending a steady stream through the awesome folks at Delaware EMS to various departments around the state. Our design process has proceeded on masks with clear panels for the teachers of hearing impaired students. The team took a couple hundred more sets of face shield parts for assembly yesterday, and I collected a hundred assembled face shields from the first round that are done. We are starting to make plans for how to support the school district and the community in an ongoing manner this summer and fall.

May 22

Most of the face shield visor kits have been assembled and returned to me. The rest should be done this weekend, so we can get them out for distribution. Alex and his volunteers are pushing through on the Dublin Food Pantry mask production. We should be ready for delivery soon. We are also continuing to work on clear face mask designs. And taking on some new requests and orders. Mr. Glaubitz dropped off about 350 more masks this week.

May 31

Sorry I have not been more active updating here the last week. Other events intervened. And we are pretty much on the same course. Continuing to produce a lot of masks. We are in fact to the point that we are looking for other organizations that may need masks as things open up. A huge pile of masks just got picked up from PAST. And Alex is close to getting his masks to the Dublin Food Pantry. I delivered some more out in Licking County. Our students are working hard now on the clear panel mask designs for the teachers of the hearing impaired. And we are starting to ask "What else can we do to support the district when school starts back up?"

June 5

A large collection of masks was picked up from PAST this week. Likely 400+ masks. I also dropped off 400 of the assembled visor kits for face shields at the project's distribution center earlier today. We have shared some different potential designs to our district hearing impaired specialist and are waiting for feedback before we start producing prototypes. She suggested that if we could produce three of each prototype she could give them to families with hearing impaired students to test.