A Belle Vernon man is using his 3D printers in the race against time to provide face masks for health-care workers on the front lines in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pete Jaklitsch is producing reusable plastic face masks on four 3D printers that he is running 24 hours a day.
The masks can be used several times by changing a removable filter.
“It’s a terrible shame we’re having such a shortage of medical supplies,” said Jaklitsch, an IT coordinator for Douglas Education Center. “Anything I can do, I just want to help.”
The masks are called the “Montana mask,” and they were created by a neurosurgeon and a dentist in that state who were looking for a solution to the ongoing need for face masks.
Jaklitsch downloaded the file to produce the mask after reading about it on a news website, and is producing about a dozen a day.
After making the plastic component, the masks are fitted with pieces of surgical masks. Up to 10 filters can be made from one surgical mask.
So far, Jaklitsch has produced dozens of masks that he has sent to medical workers who have requested it – a dozen for an out-of-state friend whose wife works in an emergency room; another dozen for nurses in a Paterson, N.J. hospital hard-hit by COVID-19 who reached out to him on MaskMatch.com, a website that pairs health care workers with DIY mask makers; and two dozen for nurses in Morgantown, W.Va., and Maryland.
The shortage of face masks for health-care workers has left them resorting to homemade alternatives, and the CDC has suggested doctors, nurses and others use bandannas and scarves.
Jaklitsch also just began working to produce face shields.
“I’m going to run (my printers) 24/7,” said Jaklitsch. “I’m going to keep making them until I can’t anymore.”