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This story, submitted by Jackie Pisani, Kingswood Oxford School, first appeared on April 10, 2020. Shared with permission.

The Director of Technology for West Hartford’s Kingswood Oxford School is currently printing masks for UConn Health Center, and students are creating a prototype for a new design.

When the collective spirit comes together, great things can happen. In an inspired game of “telephone,” Kingswood Oxford (KO) is producing much-needed masks for healthcare workers at UConn Medical Health Center in Farmington using our 3D printer.

When KO’s board members became aware that KO owned a Pursa i3 3D printer, they suggested to Head of School Tom Dillow to put the machine to good use. Dillow connected with KO Director of Technology Dan Bateson who researched a file for a 3D printer mask from the manufacturer of the 3D printer.

Bateson explained that Pursa has a very robust community of people who are always sharing ideas. Their design was a facemask with a head and chin band. Bateson said the design looked feasible, but he found difficulty in sourcing the materials.

Since plastic was not readily available, people are substituting with clear acetate sheets.

To involve the students, Bateston connected with Upper School science teacher Noah Lynd who teaches an Introduction to Engineering Class. In his opinion, Bateson said the production of the masks was a “little convoluted, requiring hot glue, a hole puncher, and Yankee ingenuity,” and he thought Lynd’s class could uncover a more efficient means of producing the masks.

Lynd wants to teach his kids the entire design thinking process by defining the problem, collecting information and sketches, gathering data, brainstorming, developing solutions, gathering feedback and continually refining and improving. Lynd tasked the students to research a Google Sketchup as a 3D design tool for an upcoming class.

“Our students can work on creating a 3D model of a prototype in Google Sketch-up, and Dan may be able to take that design and print it—thus creating a prototype. From there, we can test it and adjust accordingly based on tests,” Lynd said.

Through another board connection, Dillow understood that there was a demand for the face masks for UConn Health. Bateson reached out to UConn’s Keith Petit, a property administration manager in the Office of Logistics Management. Petit sent Bateson a 3D file for a mask adapter which is the actual item UConn needs.

Until Lynd’s class can get fully involved in the process, however, Bateson is printing the mask from his home. Since printing one mask takes approximately 45 minutes to produce, Bateston estimates he can make between five to 10 masks per day.

This Friday, KO will drop off 35 3D printed mask adapters for UConn Health with plans to keep printing as long as UConn needs them.

In times like these, doing our part and “caring beyond self,” a KO core value, is a daily action.

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Photo: KO’s 3D printer is being used to make parts of face mask for UConn Health. Courtesy photo.