Williston High School tech department creates medical 3D facemasks

Published: Apr. 29, 2020 at 7:06 PM CDT
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Technical Department directors at Williston High School are using their 3D printing skills to create personal protective equipment for health workers. After signing up with Bismarck’s Gateway to Science program, to fill requests for PPE’s, they’ve already made about 30 face shields, and they aren’t stopping now.

Greg Larson and Matt Bartenhagen originally got a new 3D printer a few months ago to create replacement parts for things like smoke detectors. Little did they know they’d soon be creating equipment that protects healthcare professionals from contracting COVID-19.

Director of WPSD#1 IT Operations Matt Bartenhagen said: “It timed out perfectly. As we got them up and running, these requests started to come in of ‘hey, could we get some extra PPE, some extra equipment for local health units,’ and we said sure, if we can help we will.”

It takes about 45 minutes to print face shields, which are being used at hospitals and dentist offices in Dickinson and Williston. Now, the tech team is testing out different ear-saver designs for the Upper Missouri District Health Unit.

Director of High School Technology Greg Larson added: “There were more than a few people saying that their ears were really hurting, or constantly having to wear a mask was really starting to chafe on their ears. So, looking on Thingiverse, we found a handful of different ear-savers. So, we’ve printed off half a dozen or so different designs.”

They don’t plan on stopping the printing presses anytime soon. They’ve discussed creating face masks if there’s a need.

Bartenhagen said: “You can print them in about an hour, and hour and a half. They’re flexible and they have media, different media whether cotton balls or different filter things that you can stick in and re-use it. Reuse the mask part, change out the filter and now you’re not having to sew things, you’re not having to find scraps.”

If your organization needs PPE’s, you can put in a request at gatewaytoscience.org/need-ppe/.

Gateway to Science doesn’t charge for PPE’s, and they’ve also worked with companies that use laser cutters and other machines to create medical equipment during the pandemic.