VHS Teacher, Students Use 3-D Printer for Face Masks

The COVID-19 pandemic created a new lifestyle for all of us, face masks included. Greg Mills, teacher of computerized manufacturing and mechatronics at Vicksburg High School, created a face mask using a 3-D printer.

He made 25 prototype masks using a printer with PLA filament and non-woven materials.

The response from wearers was that after a while, the strapping material holding the mask to the face, whether rubber bands, shoe laces or ribbon, would irritate the back of the ears. Mills designed a back neck strap that could accommodate different types of strapping material. He shared this idea and the design files with the United States Department of Health and Human Services and was asked to produce several straps for healthcare workers in the Kalamazoo area.

His equipment can produce about three straps per hour. He’s distributed more than 150 of the straps in different colors. He’s also produced more than 25 Bulldog plastic face masks.

Graduating seniors in his classes received a mask for their use. Seniors were asked to make the neck strap using design software and to personalize their strap.

Students taking his course next year will also be able to have one of these masks and a neck strap for their use.

“Keeping students and staff healthy and safe is the priority with our schools,” Mills said. He expects to be working with students during the summer with similar projects and to be ready for students and staff in the fall.

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