Engineering teacher Eric Price is utilizing Jesuit High School technology to help out local medical personnel during the coronavirus epidemic.
Inside the school's otherwise empty state-of-the-art Engineering & Robotics Lab – Jesuit is conducting virtual classes through May 1 so there are no students on campus – Price is printing plastic shells for N95 masks via the school's 3D printer. The shells are for the nursing staff of Dr. Alfonso Vargas, a Tampa neonatologist and father of Jesuit students Alfonso Vargas-Boggiano '20 and Daniel Vargas-Boggiano '22.
Hospitals all over the United States have been scrambling to get N95 masks for their employees as demand has shot up during the epidemic. However, the face-fitting, suction-designed shells for the masks are most critically lacking. Dr. Vargas needs N95 masks for 15 employees.
That's where Price and the 3D printer stepped in. He comes to Jesuit each day to print new masks and provide the finished products for Dr. Vargas and his staff. It's time consuming but effective: two shells take a total of 14 hours to print.
"What you do is cut a square and lay the square down in (the mask)," Price said. "Then kind-of clamp it in."
The plentiful foam and cloth of the mask are disposable, but the scarce plastic 3D-printed shell can be reused and is machine washable.
Downloadable files for printing 3D masks are abundant on the Internet these days, as there has been an outpouring of calls to action during the pandemic to produce shells for the masks. Price said said he recently saw an ad on Facebook calling for 3D printers to make masks for the Tampa Bay area.
"I'm happy to be able to help out," Price said.