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Local libraries printing PPE parts to protect medical workers

Park City and Summit County libraries’ 3D printers are being used to create personal protective equipment (PPE) that are being used by doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals in Utah.
Courtesy of the Park City Library

Any Wasatch Back resident who owns a 3D printer and wants to get involved with making PPE parts can contact Kate Mapp at the Park City Library by calling 435-615-5602 or emailing kate.mapp@parkcity.org. For information about the Utah Covid-19 PPE Makers Facebook Group, visit facebook.com/groups/168169440959158.

Although the Park City Library and the Summit County Library branches are closed, they are still actively working to help medical workers in the COVID-19 fight.

They are doing this with their 3D printers to make parts for personal protective equipment masks that are being used by doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals in Utah, said Kate Mapp, Park City Library’s adult services librarian.

“Since you can’t just 3D print an entire mask at once, there are a lot of parts that are needed to make it practical to wear in the workplace,” she said.

Park City Library is currently using three printers for the project, Mapp said.

“We originally had two working 3D printers, and a broken one in storage,” she said. “We were able to partner with Summit County Library because they had a broken printer that was the same model as ours.

“I was able to grab Summit County’s printer and take the parts off of our printer and replace the broken parts on the Summit County printer so it’s now working.”

PPE masks are worn by medical professionals who are in close contact with COVID-19 patients.
Courtesy of the Park City Library

The Summit County printer was donated by Mirror Lake Diner owners Gabe and Betty Morin after the Kamas Valley Branch opened in 2018, said Dan Compton, Summit County Library director.

“We had been using the printer in our tech lab, mostly to engage kids in the technology,” Compton said. “It had been running great, but right before we had to shut the libraries down due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the printer began acting up.”

Still, Compton had seen how other Utah libraries were using their printers to make PPE parts, and wanted to get involved.

“Luckily, Kate heard about our printer and reached out to us a little more than a week ago,” he said. “It was funny that it was the same model that she had. So we moved our printer to the Park City Library, and she was able to get it working.”

The libraries are working with the Utah Covid-19 PPE Makers Facebook group at facebook.com/groups/168169440959158, who have recruited others to make mask parts, according to Mapp.

The halos, or headpieces, which are created by Park City and Summit County libraries’ 3D printers, are gathered up by the Utah Covid-19 PPE Makers Facebook Group, which assembles PPE masks.
Courtesy of The Park City Library

The group was organized by Cottonwood Heights resident Jonathan House, who, along with his wife Jennifer, owns Beautiful Adventures, a small custom jewelry boutique that uses 3D printers to make some of their products.

“First of all, we’re not the only group that is doing this, and there are hundreds of thousands of people with 3D printers around the world who are doing this,” House said. “We just happened to have the right conversations to build this group quickly.”

Conversations between House and a number of his friends in the Utah medical community started the ball rolling.

“I heard stories about the lack of PPE, and how my friends were having to use their face masks for weeks at a time because they weren’t getting any replacements,” he said. “They told me they had to go without shields while treating COVID-positive patients, which was so scary.”

One of his friends, who is a researcher at the University of Utah, asked House what he was going to do about this situation.

“I told her I didn’t know what I could do, and she said, ‘You’re better than that,’” he said. “She knew that I work with 3D printers and she told me that I was smart enough to figure out something.”

After a long discussion with his wife, House decided to take action.

“We made the decision that Jennifer would take the bulk of the business and I would focus on getting the PPEs out,” he said.

Prague-based company named Prusa Research, which manufactures 3D printers, created the PPE pattern he uses.

“They had developed and tested their headpiece design with their ministry of health, and because they decided to open-source that design, people around the world were able to start printing that design,” House said.

The Park City Library printers are currently making the part around the clock, Mapp said,

“Once I got the print file from Jonathan, we programmed the pattern in each printer and handed the printer to our librarians who took them home,” she said. “Each print can take up to three or four hours to complete, depending on the printer, and the printers will continue to make the parts over and over again.”

Once the printers make between 10 and 20 parts, Mapp contacts House, who arranges a pickup.

“His team collects all the different parts of the masks and assembles them in a clean environment,” Mapp said.

Everyone working on the masks are volunteers, House said.

“There is no compensation, but we’ve been lucky to have generous donors, so we can get filament to people who are doing the printing,” he said. “The filament is our hard cost, but we’re at a point that we can give people a role of filament so the people don’t have to buy it.”

House also prefers to donate the masks directly to the medical professionals to get them in their hands in a timely manner and to avoid any politics regarding distribution.

“So Park City area medical professionals — doctors, nurses and healthcare workers — should contact us so we can get them these PPEs as soon as we can,” he said.

Mapp is also seeking more 3D printers to help with the cause.

“If other people in the Wasatch Back have 3D printers in their homes and want to help, they can reach out to me,” she said.

Mapp can be reached by calling 435-615-5602 or emailing kate.mapp@parkcity.org.

“I’m glad we can get creative and do a small part to help with this cause,” she said.


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