BUTTE — Butte’s health department reached out to Montana Tech when there was a national need for more protective face masks and shields to protect people during the pandemic.
The Butte engineering university fired up its 3-D printers and got to work.
“We just kind of hit the ground running from there, and decided we’d try and make them a little better,” said Ph.D. student Luke Suttey.
Since last week, students and staff have been designing headbands for face shields and medical-grade facemasks to protect healthcare workers.
The university is close to completing a successful prototype for the mask to begin mass production soon.
The work is rewarding.
“It does give you a certain amount of fulfillment just to have a successful print and a product that actually works,” said Associate Professor Bryce Hill.
“Being able to design something that is this neat, plus be able to help people at the same time, just feels really good to contribute,” Suttey added.
It takes about an hour to make one of the face masks, so these machines are constantly going to get as many completed as possible.
“And that means we get about ten an hour, maybe less than that, and then it just has to have somebody once an hour, come and check on the machines, replace all the things that are on there or take them all off and start the process printing again,” said Hill.