In the middle of March 2020 shortly after the COVID-19 outbreak in Prague, we started to utilize our 3D printers in the AppPort to produce masks. All over the Czech Republic individuals, NGOs, and organizations started to sew the textile masks to help those, who need them due to the lack of masks in the country. With the support from our SAP Concur Country Director Jacob Ringler and two 3D printing enthusiasts Matej Duras and Jiri Bramburek, we also began to help to prevent the virus spread across our communities. We saw an instructional video about the mask production kindly provided by two Czech universities (CZU Prague & VUT Brno), and since we have the necessary equipment in AppPort, including a 3D printer, we just started to create them.
In the beginning, it took us 7 hours per mask to be ready to use. Since then we optimized the process, it now takes between 3.5 hours (S size) and 5.5 hours (XL-size) to produce it. Hence, we are able to print 7-8 masks per day, depending on their size. In total, we produced between 150 and 200 masks, with 50 being roughly our maximum weekly capacity.
We dedicated the first masks to the operating staff and receptionists in our building SAP Metronom, who have to come to work every day. The masks we print are suitable for the individuals in daily life for regular protection of others because they block the exhaled particles as the usual textile masks do. However, for professionals in hospitals, for instance, who not only have to protect others but also need to be protected themselves, the masks would not be appropriate.
The masks themselves can be cleaned and disinfected with any alcohol solutions. The plastic softens with heat, so one has to be careful with washing them in hot water (50 degrees +). The filters should be changed at least daily, depending on how much the mask is used. It accumulates moisture over time and degrades. The design of the masks makes changing filters simple and easy and should encourage the user to do so. If someone uses cotton or similar fabric as a filter, it could be boiled and used again.
When it comes to the process of creation itself, we use slicer software to translate the 3D model (in .stl file) to instructions for the printer (GCODE, it contains detailed information for the printer about movement, extrusion, temperature, etc.). The printer follows the commands, having the mask as a result. After that, we do some finishing touches (cleaning the print, fixing small imperfections, etc.) and attach the insulation that comes into contact with the face. We also cut the filter. And the mask is ready for usage. Just if you are interested, the 3D printers we have are: Prusa i3-mk2s (older model, not available in the market anymore) and Prusa i3-mk3s with a multi-material upgrade. In the meantime, we already decided to order another printer to produce even more masks at a faster time.
We have already distributed the mask to the Czech Border Police in Turnov, a few pharmacies, COVID-19 Test Labs, senior houses, and some individuals. Now we have started our partnership with the nonprofit organization Nadani a Dovednosti to distribute the masks to local orphanages. Noteworthy, we also received some great appreciation through articles in local newspapers, such as Denik.cz, Právo, and finance.cz.
We are open to new orders, we are eager to help. Contact our Community Team, if you believe you also need the 3D printed mask, or you might know some initiatives & individuals who might demand, and our Team will get in touch with you directly.