RailerRobotics members make masks



New, protective masks sit after being created by member of the Robotics team. They wanted to create the masks with their 3D printer to help supply local healthcare workers with protective equipment.

When Governor Laura Kelly issued a state-wide stay at home order, it stated that citizens should avoid all unnecessary travel such as hanging out with friends, going to the gym or traveling to another state/country. In addition to restricting unnecessary travel, it is also suggested to wash your hands frequently, use hand sanitizer and if possible, wear a medical mask when going in public.
However, just like every product, there is a limited supply of masks, and not everyone can afford to purchase one. Because of this, the RailerRobotics team decided to put their 3D printer to good use during these trying times and make masks for nearby hospitals.
“We understand that supplies are running low and we wanted to help our community,” junior Megan Watkins said.
After hearing about 3D mask printing in other states, junior Elise Jantz brought the idea to Robotics coach Alan Vermilyea.
“My parents work at Newton Med Center, and someone told my mom about people 3D printing masks in Montana,” junior Elise Jantz said. “She told me about it and I found their website with more information and the files they made available.”
Safety is the main concern when it comes to making the masks. This includes the safety of the students and staff making them and the people they will be distributed to. So far, they have made 30 masks and 12 face shields, but plan to make many more.
The students and staff involved are taking extra health precautions when it comes to handling the masks and the requirements for people handling them. For example, when first entering the building, each person is required to use hand sanitizer and record their temperature, anyone with a fever is not allowed to enter the building and they are doing their best to not breathe on the masks at all.
“While the masks are printing, depending on the melting point of the material, the prints will get to at least 175 degrees celsius so they will be sanitized, and once the hospital receives them, the masks are cleaned there again,” Watkins said.
The RailerRobotics team thought this would be a unique and helpful way to get involved with the community during this time of need. As an extra challenge, some students are also working on building a ventilator in the event that a nearby hospital would be in need.
“We are mainly wanting to help keep our hospital and their staff safe. We also hope to spread the news of what high school robotics can do for their communities and who we are,” junior Megan Watkins said. “Our team has been closed off for a couple of years so we hope this is something to help get us connected with others again.”