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Eureka robotics teacher uses 3D printer to make N95 masks

Posted at 3:39 PM, Mar 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-27 17:39:23-04

EUREKA — Eureka robotics teacher Rob Reynolds heard about the need from his community for N95 masks for health care workers.

Reynolds told MTN that he decided to use the school's 3D printers to make plastic N95 masks.

"I got in touch with our doctor here locally and said is this something you could use? He said that would be great and that they currently have stock but if things go South they have to be ready for that," explained Reynolds. "So, I printed up a few prototypes."

He explained to MTN that it takes three hours to make one mask, so he's not doing it alone. So, he's recruiting students on the school's robotics team, like freshmen Sophia Lord to help.

Lord has been doing robotics since middle school and is excited to use her love of robotics for real world applications.

"I'm used to designing things for my robot," said Lord. "So, getting to be something that can be used for the future, and some real world thing is really cool."

Reynolds says that's what teaching robotics is all about.

"That's what you always want to find. Is applying real life skills, to the learning that they're doing," said Reynolds.

Reynolds explained to MTN that all he creates with the 3D printer is a plastic mask shell. The doctors then add their own filter and elastic straps so the masks will fit on the worker.

Doctor Doug Nelson, Chief Medical Officer with Kalispell Regional Hospital told MTN how these plastic masks differ from cloth ones.

"The material that's used to filter is more robust that's used in just a regular paper surgical mask," said Dr. Nelson.

Currently, Reynolds has only made a handful of these that are only going to doctors in Eureka.

The goal is to make as many as possible and send them to other hospitals in the state.

"It's a great feeling obviously to be able to do that to utilize the resources and technology that we have here at the school," said Reynolds.