CEDARVILLE, Ohio —  With personal protective equipment (PPE) in extremely high demand and supplies running low, hospitals and nursing homes are searching for alternative options to keep their doctors and nurses safe while treating patients with the coronavirus. But through ingenuity and creativity, people are finding new ways to make PPE.

  • Cedarville’s Connor Hart is using his knowledge of 3D printing to create N95 masks for healthcare professionals
  • He said it takes a couple of hours to make each individual mask, which are reusable with a new filter
  • So far, he has made 25 masks, but plans to make at least 100

Second-year Cedarville Student Connor Hart is the president of The Hands of Hope Foundation, a non-profit organization that makes prosthetics for children with limb differences.

But during the coronavirus pandemic, they had to stop printing prosthetics. 

“That just really upset me, because I love having them print and I love helping others,” Hart said. “I was trying to look for a way to help the community and continue 3D printing.”

And now that the pandemic is causing an international shortage of personal protective equipment or PPE, he’s doing what he can to help make N95 masks for healthcare professionals. 

Hart said he’s already made 25 masks and has donated half of them to a nursing home in Holgate. But he’s not stopping there. He plans to make at least 100 masks.

“How the masks actually work, you need a filter that can be made by cutting up a normal medical mask into pieces,” Hart said. “What you do is you put that piece right here on it, and just pop that on and push it in.”

He said by cutting up a standard mask to use as a filter, you get multiple uses out of it.

His masks are made from filament, which means the material is durable, reusable, and can be sanitized repeatedly. 

“So, when it comes to sanitizing it, they can just use a sanitizing wipe or a bleach, and clean it on the inside here, and just reuse it,” he said.

Another feature of his mask is it can be form-fitted by using heat. 

“These masks are thermo-formable, which means if they don’t fit, or if it’s doesn’t fit correctly on the face, what they can do is heat it up with a hair dryer or put it in a little bit of hot water, then they can form it to fit the shape of their face,” Hart said.

To top it all off, the masks are very cost-efficient. Each mask costs only about a dollar to make. 

“This little piece right here is about 10 cents to make, and this piece is like 90 with filament,” he said. 

Hart said the printing process takes a couple of hours to create each mask. Then he sands them down to make sure there are no rough spots on the inside of the mask, ensuring comfort — an additional 15 minutes per mask. 

But Hart said the time it takes to make the masks is well worth it. He said he will continue to make a difference, one mask at a time.