After learning that his brother-in-law was working at a nearby hospital without any PPE to keep him safe, Randy Mostad, owner of Carpet One Floor & Home in Billings, MT, became increasingly concerned for his neighbors working tirelessly to combat COVID-19 in challenging circumstances. Like many other areas of the country, the communities surrounding Billings, MT have been experiencing a major shortage of PPE masks in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. But after learning that a local physician had found a smart solution in the form of a 3D printable mask, the staff at the neighborhood flooring cooperative knew they’d found a way to potentially give back.
Randy, whose daughter-in-law is a nurse at the same hospital that had previously been forced to re-use the same mask day after day, said the decision to purchase a 3D printer was a no-brainer. “Up to the day it arrived, none of us had ever seen, let alone used a 3D printer,” he laughed. But after watching several tutorials on YouTube, conferring with health professionals via chatrooms, and enlisting the help of their 12-year-old, Randy and his wife soon got the hang of the process. Family and staff began stocking up on rolls and rolls of filament, allowing them to run production without interruption.
Within the span of several days, the team had plenty of masks to deliver to a nearby hospital. After learning that the hospital was also short on couplers to bond filters inside the masks, they promptly switched gears, producing up to 72 flanges per day.
Having since learned that other nearby hospitals and emergency crews were in a similar predicament, they’ve now set a goal of producing 1000 masks by May. Randy remains humble about his store’s outreach efforts, noting that everyone has the ability to lend a hand during these trying times if they start thinking outside the box. “The doctors that invented this mask put the files online, so anyone with a printer can make them,” he noted. “They deserve all the glory.”
For more information on Carpet One Floor & Home of Billings’ mask outreach, visit www.MakeTheMasks.com.
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