JAMESTOWN — Locally 3D-printed plastic extenders are making masks a little more comfortable for frontline responders working long shifts.
Five Greene County Career Center 3D printers are currently set up and running almost continuously in a classroom at Greeneview High School. The machines, borrowed from Beavercreek High School, are producing about 100 mask extenders a day.
The extenders act as adjustable clips, worn at the back of the head, that hook onto loops on a mask.
“They’re wearing these masks for 12 to 18 hour shifts. It’s causing a lot of pain behind the ears for nurses and doctors,” GCCC Satellite Supervisor Gregg Haines, who is spearheading the project, said by phone. “[Extenders] put more pressure on the back of the head versus right behind the ear.”
Collaboration among Greene County Public Health, Greene County Public Library, the career center and schools around the district enabled the idea to come to fruition.
“We said, yeah, we have 3D printers. We can try to make that happen with our leftover filament,” Haines said. “Greeneview has been a great partner. [Superintendent] Isaac Seevers and [Principal] Neal Kasner said absolutely, house them in our classroom.”
Library officials provided a program file for the extenders, which GCCC engineering instructors Dave Oldiges (Beavercreek High School) and Doug Picard (Xenia High School) used to set up the machines. Public health officials are distributing the extenders to local hospitals, nursing homes and law enforcement.
“Working as a team is what is going to make our response better for all. Making these clips may seem like a small thing, but we must help care for those that are caring for our community members and our loved ones,” GCPH Emergency Response Coordinator Kim Caudill said by email, expressing gratitude for community partners. “They have really stepped up to assist with the response and we can’t thank them enough.”
Caudill added that two individuals are also 3D-printing face shields for local distribution.
“These talented people saw a need and went to work making things that we are not able to purchase at this time,” she said. “We are all in this together.”
As Haines explains, the central hub of county schools — the career center — simply wants to support the community in any way possible.
“Our school board and Superintendent Dave Deskins really pushed and supported this little endeavor,” he said. “It’s also a valuable experience to be able to share this with our staff and students.”
Health Science Academy and engineering teachers are talking to their students, virtually, about the project.
“We want students to see where what they’re learning in the classroom can [be applied], and what better way than showing what’s happening in the world right now,” Haines said.
Haines started printing last Thursday and, as long as everything continues running smoothly, he’ll continue printing until resources run dry or they’re asked to stop.
“All the attention needs to go to the frontline workers,” he said. “What we’re doing pales in comparison … but any way we can help those folks to do their job, we want to help … They’re the real heroes.”
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