Ted Frison ’68 is part of Make the Masks, a national group of volunteers with 3D printers who are constructing air filtration masks that can be used in emergency situations.
The masks are intended for medical personnel, first responders, clinics, and assisted living facilities during times when other medical grade masks like the N95 are not available. The masks can also be used by the general public using HEPA air purifier filters, he said.
“I’m printing masks as fast as I can on my mid-grade printer — about four to five a day,” Frison noted in an email. He is the referent for the Washington, D.C./northern Virginia region of volunteers. While demand locally has been “a touch slack,” others on the national network will often put out a call when they are overwhelmed. “I can put the inventory in a box for FedEx,” he said. “Our next big request is 300 masks for a major urban hospital.”
The group is printing the “Montana” mask, which was originally designed by a surgeon in Billings. Frison is currently working on a design modification so the mask better fits people who wear glasses. “The prototyping has taken up more of my time than I’d like. Hopefully, that’s mostly done,” he said.
Since the masks are made from plastic, they are reusable and can be sterilized, he explained. Only a small filter square needs replacing. “One surgical paper mask can be cut into six filters for our masks for true medical-grade situations,” Frison said. “For the rest of us, filters made from a HEPA air purifier filter do just fine.”
“It’s truly a collaborative effort. I’m only one of many,” he wrote. They do have approval from the Center for Disease Control and Food and Drug Administration for use “during times of critical material shortages,” provided the user follows the guidelines. Most of the groups around the country are not charging for their material, he said, but some are operating on a scale where they need reimbursement for heavy use of supplies.
“Our Dallas group has a huge operation funded by Mark Cuban (of Shark Tank fame and owner of the NBA Dallas Mavericks).” Frison said. “They’re making about 20,000 masks.”