AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – It’s tough to find N95 masks to protect yourself from coronavirus but a local is using 3D printers so the masks will be more readily available.
theClubhou.se, an innovation center within the Georgia Cyber Center, has teamed up with medical professionals from Augusta University and the Georgia Department of Health to make a prototype of N95 masks. Their model is called the ‘Augusta mask.’
“Our hope is traditional manufacturing catches up in the next few weeks.”, said Eric Parker, Founder, and President of theClubhou.se.
In times of a pandemic, you got to be innovative. The ‘Augusta mask’ is based off the ‘Montana mask’ which is modified by a group at the University of Utah to have a screw piece.
Parker explained, “We’ve taken that design and further modified it to reduce the weight. Make it more comfortable to wear. Increase the size of the air filter so that it’s easier for people to breathe. And also, introduced gasketing so it’s more comfortable to wear.”
The group is working to keep the cost of the masks under $20. Replacement filters cost a buck.
“We’re selling these masks but not for a profit. We’re selling them so we can recoup the cost it takes to make and to tool up everything. And to make sure the people who are working on the project are able to get a fair wage since so many people are unemployed right now. Our initial target is to get these into nursing homes so that we can reduce the number of outbreaks happening now and after that, we’re hoping to get these to first responders,” said Parker.
“We definitely would be interested. It would decrease our burn rate, in other words, the rate at which we’re using up our PPEs,” said Augusta Fire Chief Chris James.
The ‘Augusta mask’ is made of peel away plastic and the filters are made from off the shelf materials. It’s also reusable. A prototype of the mask has been sent to the FDA for emergency testing.
“One thing we want to do is make sure this product before it goes out in the community. We don’t want to create a false sense of safety,” said Parker.
Chief James added, “We are always trying to procure more because we don’t know how long this is going to last. So, do we have enough equipment for what we’re doing right now? Yes.”
Many people in the CSRA are making the ‘Augusta mask’ at home. You can too and help out the cause if you have a 3-D printer.
Click or tap here to learn how you can get involved.