Martin Gallagher, the Digital Scholarship Lab support manager at Florida Tech, is 3D printing masks after recognizing the shortage of medical masks nationwide because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Times article published in March cited Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, stating that demand is up 100 times higher than normal, and prices are up 20 times higher for global stocks of masks.
“I became interested in the mask concept as I could see the lack of masks available to the professional medical staff and the need for masks in the public areas,” Gallagher said in an email. “This gave a need for many more masks for the public which are not commercially available and practical as the public do not generally need expensive disposable masks.”
Gallagher said he has been using his expertise in 3D modeling to start building the masks from his home workshop. Without charge, Gallagher has supplied his masks to Florida Tech students, staff members working in Evans Library and the Student Union Building, as well as to students’ families who are working as nurses in New York.
According to Gallagher, the masks themselves were created to limit inhalation of potentially harmful substances as much as possible, and also come in different designs for specific needs such as quick printing and durability.
“To provide the best protection I felt by limiting the breathing area of the mask you can limit both the in and out area for capture of the virus,” Gallagher said. “I utilized premium polyester upholstery fabric which is not breathable without holes and provides a limiting area for the ventilation and filter.”
Gallagher said that his main problem is time. “The man-hours per mask ranges from 15 to 25 minutes per mask to produce and I utilize my home workshop with my laser cutter and equipment to build the masks,” Gallagher said.
For all looking to stay safe during this time of crisis, protection from possible infection is vital according to many health and safety authorities, and Gallagher is working hard to help.
The following disclaimer comes from Florida Tech’s legal team:
“The masks described in this video are not NIOSH approved, do not replace respirators and are not a form of approved Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the workplace. Homemade masks should ideally be used in combination with a face shield that covers the entire front, (that extends to the chin or below) and the sides of the face. 3-D printed PPE are unlikely to provide the same level of fluid barrier protection, fluid resistance, filtration and infection control as FDA-cleared surgical masks and N95 respirators.”