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Yakima community workshop 3D printing face masks for hospitals

The Yakima Maker Space has all eight of its 3D printers making face masks amid shortage.

YAKIMA, Wash. — As coronavirus spreads and the supply of personal protective equipment shrinks, a community workshop in Yakima, Washington is doing what it can to solve the problem. 

The Yakima Maker Space is using all eight of its 3D printers to make reusable face masks for hospitals in the region. In a matter of days, YMS Board President Heath Lambe and fellow board member Nick Romero got the project up and running.

Lambe, Romero and others worked with hospitals in the area to meet their needs, tweaking an open source design from a community Facebook page, their mask emphasizes durability and flexibility. 

“They originally asked for 30 and now they're asking for 200, so we're doing our best to ramp up and get the resources we need so we can get these things printed," Lambe said.

Meanwhile, Romero quickly mobilized resources with his Yakima-based technical training company, Thrive Industries LLC, to support the project by facilitating supplies, machines, and other necessary items.

Credit: KGW Staff
Nick Romero, Yakima Maker Space board member and owner of Thrive Industries LLC

Partially inspired by the N95 respirator, the mask is composed of two different types of plastic and printed as three separate components. It is then assembled and ready for use. The best part? Lambe said the masks are intended to be reused. That's because of an interchangeable filter the team worked into the design.

Credit: KGW Staff

“They can wear this, sanitize it, then change those out every four hours. It's reusable, you're not just throwing it away," Lambe said.

And it's a good thing the masks are reusable because right now each one takes about 7.5 hours to print. Lambe expects to get a few more printers in the coming days but in the meantime his units will continue printing nonstop, 24 hours a day.

Update: Yakima Maker Space recently adjusted the diameter of the printing nozzle and Lambe says masks can now be printed in 3.5 hours.

"All we can do is our best and I'm really proud of our community makers and how they've come together to find a solution to this particular problem in short order," Lambe said.

Each mask will be donated to hospitals in the Yakima region. 

Yakima Maker Space has made their 3D designs available online in case others with 3D printers are interested in printing face masks.

If you want to support the Yakima Maker Space face mask project you can visit their website here.

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