South Carolina man using 3D printer to make medical masks with reusable filters

Coronavirus

LAMAR, SC (WBTW) — A man in South Carolina is trying to use a 3D printer in the race to have enough supplies for medical workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Daren Lorenzo’s family owns King Industrial, but instead of making different manufacturing parts, Lorenzo is now building reusable filtration masks. His 3D printer is creating an item many hospital workers are concerned about not having enough of: medical masks.

Unlike most medical masks, this one can be used many times after changing a removable filter.

“It is comfortable,” said Lorenzo, while trying on the mask. “It’s not heavy. I can breathe just fine. It’s not obstructive.”

It’s called the “Montana mask” and it was created by two doctors in that state to help with the ongoing need for surgical masks. The doctors say six disposable filter pieces of about 2.5 inches can come from one N95 mask.

Three sizes can be 3D printed and the masks can be a perfect fit with something like boiling water.

“Heat up the plastic just a little bit, just to make it flexible, and you can easily remold it just to fit your face,” Lorenzo said.

The doctors say they’ve done extensive testing on the “Montana mask,” but it has yet to be approved by the FDA or the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which is a part of the CDC.

While regular N95s are still the preferred mask, the CDC has allowed homemade masks in crisis relief.

“This is our response to that,” said Lorenzo, who’s the Florence and Columbia coordinator of “Make the Masks.” “Although it may not be quite up to standard, it is still better than doing nothing or putting a dish rag around your face.”

Lorenzo says Florence-area hospitals may be interested, but he needs help since he can only print six or seven masks each day.

“We are trying to find other people who can help supply these and we’re also looking to raise funds to in order to purchase more printers,” he said.

If you’d like to donate money, volunteer a 3D printer or want to learn more about Lorenzo’s cause, check out his Facebook group here. You can also email makethemasksflorence@gmail.com.

Lorenzo says any 3D printers bought will be donated to schools after the pandemic.

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