A little more than a month ago, the US Surgeon General tweeted, "Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can't get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!"
Now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is expected to reverse the recommendation on wearing face masks.
President Trump suggested on Thursday that new CDC guidelines could require Americans to wear masks.
But there's a problem: Masks are in short supply – the average American can't find 3M N95s or higher, and if they do, some masks can cost upwards $10 to $20 per. Several months ago, the masks were on Amazon or at Home Depot for $1 per, but huge demand as a pandemic unfolded has extinguished all supply. Even major US hospital systems are lacking masks and other medical equipment as confirmed cases reach 245,658 and deaths breach over the 6,000 level.
For anyone who didn't heed our warning about purchasing 3M N95 masks in January/February – here's another option: You can now 3D-print masks at home thanks to the medical students and engineers of Rowan University.
"Rowan University engineering and medical students have developed a prototype for a durable, lightweight, reusable face mask to augment the supply of face masks during the current shortage of PPE during the COVID-19 outbreak. The mask is provided "as-is" and primarily acts as a mechanical barrier. It is not a replacement for N95 masks.
Developed in collaboration with medical professionals, the mask prototype may serve in clinical and field use. If printed, used and maintained correctly, the mask provides a durable, reusable mechanical barrier," read the Rowan University website.
"This is part of a humanitarian effort by Rowan," said Dr. Shreekanth Mandayam, an engineering professor on the university's Glassboro campus who is leading the project.
"It's not just New Jersey and South Jersey where we are. There are plenty of countries around the world where there's a shortage of PPE. This is a low-cost, quick solution people can use," Mandayam said.
Courtesy of Courier-Post, students at Rowan show how the masks are assembled:
In a separate print operation, here's a timelapse video of the masks are being printed:
The printed masks are made from polylactic acid and are not N95 grade. Anyone can slide in HEPA material for the filter -- it's a better option than wearing no mask.
3D-printed adult face mask instructions:
Here’s the 3D-printed adult face mask software:
- Small adult mask - small_rowan3dprintedmask_v2_1.stl (2.1MB)
- Medium adult mask - medium_rowan3dprintedmask_v2_1.stl (2.1MB)
- Large adult mask - large_rowan3dprintedmask_v2_1.stl (2.1MB)
- Filter - filter_rowan3dprintedmask_v2.stl (438KB)
We also mentioned guns and ammo are selling out across the country -- forcing some people to print 3D guns at home.