Trident Technical College produces reusable masks for local health care workers

Trident Technical College’s (TTC) new South Carolina Aeronautical Training Center has not been sitting idle while the college’s campuses are closed to the public. Working alone in an advanced manufacturing lab, TTC Vice President for Continuing Education and Economic Development Bob Walker has been working as a one-man production line for personal protective equipment (PPE) using six of the college’s 3D printers.

The college offered to create reusable masks for health care workers at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) after learning of MUSC’s request for PPE. Using design files provided by MUSC, Walker converted the files to programs needed by the college’s 3D printers. He is using the printers to produce small, medium and large masks, as well as cartridge housings for filters. The first supply of parts was delivered to MUSC on April 8. The hospital will handle the final assembly, adding filters, head straps and liners to the masks. Portions of the masks can be sanitized and reused, which reduces the hospital’s dependence on fully disposable masks.

After refining the production process in the lab on campus, Walker received permission from the college’s president to move the printers to his home where he can better monitor the printing and increase the production yield. He hopes to produce around 40 to 50 masks a week with the printers running 24 hours a day, seven days a week. At MUSC’s request, Walker is also exploring the possibility of making head strap assemblies for face shields. The crash course in PPE production has been both fun and frustrating, said Walker, but also very rewarding. “We’re just trying to help out in any way we can those fighting this battle on the front lines,” he said.

To view a brief video about the project, visit the college’s YouTube page here.

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