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Technology With high school’s 3D printers in his house, student runs mask production line for Seattle-area hospitals

18:10  01 april  2020
18:10  01 april  2020 Source:   geekwire.com

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When Ayan Gupta and his classmates at Tesla STEM High School in Redmond, Wash., started throwing around ideas for how to lend a hand during the coronavirus crisis, someone suggested they make protective face masks with 3D printers. Within 48 hours of hearing the idea, Gupta was heading up a full-scale operation to print parts, get masks assembled and distribute them to hospital professionals.

Ayan Gupta, a senior at Tesla STEM High School in Redmond, Wash., with 3D printers from the school that are now being used to make masks from his home. (Photo courtesy of Ayan Gupta) © Provided by Geekwire Ayan Gupta, a senior at Tesla STEM High School in Redmond, Wash., with 3D printers from the school that are now being used to make masks from his home. (Photo courtesy of Ayan Gupta)

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Gupta has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. The 17-year-old senior with a strong science and robotics background is the founder and CEO of STEMZ Education, a nonprofit that connects kids to high school mentors who can help them with assorted academics and activities related to science, technology, engineering and math.

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With the help of about 15 other students, and with permission to borrow several of his school’s 3D printers for use at home, Gupta is coordinating an operation that just got going a week ago. A GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign was set up to raise $1,500 and as of Tuesday had pulled in more than $8,200 to help cover the cost of materials — every $1 donated could help produce two masks, the campaign says.

“That was very surprising,” Gupta said of surpassing the original goal. “We were already super happy. But then we saw people keep donating and donating and donating. It was kind of amazing to feel the outpouring of support from the community. And that just kind of really helped us kickstart our production really fast.”

The team is 3D printing clips which attach to the sides of cotton masks to hold the face covers to the straps which go around a user’s ears. Gupta said assembly with clips is faster than the stitching practices being employed by others. The masks are intended to be single use.

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Gupta, who started 3D printing in the 9th grade, said he’s grown experienced over the years in the art of the craft. He’s not working on his own projects right now. Instead he leaves mask parts outside his house and someone picks them up in the morning. Other students cut fabric and do assembly.

a man standing in front of a window: The mask created by students at Tesla STEM High School in Redmond, Wash. (Photo via GoFundMe) © Provided by Geekwire The mask created by students at Tesla STEM High School in Redmond, Wash. (Photo via GoFundMe)

A batch has been delivered to Swedish Redmond and tweaks have been made to the design based on feedback from medical professionals. The intention is to spread the masks around to other area hospitals, including Valley Medical Center in Renton, Wash., Swedish in Issaquah, Wash., and Evergreen Health in Kirkland, Wash.

The students have steadily increased production since March 23, and on Monday they produced 150 masks in one day for the first time. They hope to sustain that level of production and even increase it over the next week.

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Different kids of varying ages from other schools have reached out looking to pitch in but Gupta has them on hold at the moment as he tries to wrap his head around scaling up. His initial 9-hour days on the project have at least settled down to four or five hours per day this week.

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“As doctors and nurses are working long hours to keep our community healthy, it is very rewarding to make an effort to supply a mask critical to keeping them healthy and safe,” said team member Nic Besauros.

“We want to do everything we can to stop the virus,” added Varshan Muhunthan. “Not just prevent further spread through social distancing, but also support hospitals who are working at their capacity.”

With the end of his high school career disrupted by the pandemic and the shuttering of schools, Gupta is looking forward to what’s next. He’s in the process of narrowing down his college choices and what he wants to study — robotics or electrical or computer engineering. The University of Washington is in the running. So is Georgia Tech.

“I’ve done some entrepreneurship stuff. I’ve done some engineering stuff. I want to kind of figure out what I like better or if I want to combine the two in some way,” he said, sounding like a kid who wasn’t currently preoccupied with helping to combat a major health crisis. “I need to still decide.”

Making 'PPE' at home: Families use 3D printers to address coronavirus shortages .
In basements and garages across America, a cottage industry of 3D printing is gaining steam to address PPE shortages amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. Colorado 7th grader Amelia Brown and her father Matt, a STEM teacher at Warren Tech/Lakewood High School, have printed more than 300 headbands for face shields in the family garage, one per hour from each printer, around the clock. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.

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