Edwards Air Force Base is in need of masks, so airmen are 3D printing them

Posted at 9:25 AM, Apr 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-16 18:07:22-04

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — Edwards Air Force Base is showing off some of the cutting edge ways they’re coping during the coronavirus crisis.

“How are we giving masks to those folks who can’t maintain social distance? We’re getting creative," said Col. Matt Higer, the Commander the 412th Test Wing at Edwards AFB.

As the base continued to perform essential military operations amid the coronavirus pandemic, one major issue arose. Some airmen were unable to complete their job while maintaining social distance. Those people are required to wear a facemask, something that’s not easy to find nowadays, even for the U.S. military.

“The Secretary of Defence said homemade and self-procured is the way to go in the immediate step, and we’ll backfill that with supply when we have the supply available," Higer said.

And until that supply is available, the airmen working in the base’s Makerspace lab had a simple solution, they’d 3D print a lot of masks.

"It’s in the hundreds,” said Senior Airmen Orion Cortez.

It takes a team effort to make the masks, starting with a flat drawing that is imported into their 3D programs. The airmen printing several different shapes and sizes to find the best options. The masks are made of plastic, except for the elastic straps and paper filters, both of which are made of other materials widely available on the base. The masks are only being made for base personnel. But if the team have it their way, their efforts will have a wider impact.

“The biggest thing is we’re trying to teach other people and share these files so that other people at other bases, or off base, or other maker communities can make these masks in their homes," Cortez said.