NORTHGLENN, Colo. — There is a hum coming from inside Northglenn High School.
Just like every other school, the building itself is closed, so the hum is not from students.
"We have printers running 24 hours a day. In fact, last night, I was here at 1 a.m. setting up all the printers for the next round," said Northglenn High School STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Coordinator Todd Corn.
The school was presented with an idea that's being utilized in Billing, MT, from a University of Colorado School of Medicine graduate.
"It’s a 3D printed mask," said Corn.
The mask is not meant to replace the N95 masks that are needed when treating COVID-19 patients, it's meant to be used as a procedural mask replacement.
The masks are designed to create a seal covering your nose and mouth. The center square is for a filter. That filter could be a surgical mask that is cut up to fit the square. One surgical mask could be cut into five pieces and each piece could be used when treating a different patient. The mask itself can be washed, but the filter needs to be replaced.
"In four-and-a-half hours I can print one mask," said Corn.
The printers had reached 100 masks by Wednesday afternoon.
"To print this cost us about $2.50 in filament,” said Corn. "A spool of filament can last quite some time, but it’s about $20."
That's about eight masks per filament.
Would the state recommend the use of 3D printed masks or home-sewn masks that so many are helping with?
During a conference call on Tuesday, Mike Willis, the Director of the Office of Emergency Management and the state's incident commander said it depends.
"Things that you describe will go through a testing process through our university systems and our state lab to see if they are viable," said Willis. "We would, certainly, put it through a pretty thorough testing before asking our medical professionals, health care workers or first responders to use them."
On the way into the STEM building at Northglenn High School there are three words both in English and Spanish: Explore, Discover and Innovate.
"At Northglenn High School, we practice problem-based learning, so this is a real problem that we’re all dealing with, and what a great application for our school to help out in the community," said Corn.
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