The US military is using 3D printers — and even sewing machines — to manufacture face shields, reusable plastic N95 masks and surgical masks much-needed by medical professionals during the coronavirus crisis.
Navy and Marine Corps commands launched an initial production of 220 medical face shields after FEMA made the request, the Navy said in a news release.
Both military branches partnered with America Makes — a national manufacturing institute — to rapidly produce the shields.
Meanwhile, instructors at the 312th Training Squadron’s Special Instruments Training course at Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas have started printing prototypes for shields as well as reusable plastic N95 face masks.
Instructors with the 312th Training Squadron’s Special Instruments Training course at Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas were inspired by similar efforts they saw on social media.
They were inspired by a Facebook group called Air Force Quarantine University, where they saw other organizations modeling and printing the items, Master Sgt. Manuel Campo, a special instruments training flight chief, said in a statement.
“We plan to present what we have created to the medical group to see if we can meet their needs and print what they need,” Staff Sgt. Jonathan Bahr added.
At the same time, 1st Special Forces Group soldiers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington are repurposing their sewing machines — typically used to repair parachutes — to assemble surgical masks.
“The Aerial Delivery Platoon will be able to produce 200 [masks] per day, initially, with only five, lightweight sewing machines,” Army Lt. Col. Christopher S. Jones, the battalion’s commander, said in a statement.
The platoon will ultimately be able to produce 1,000 to 1,500 masks during normal work week, according to Jones.
“I believe this is a phenomenal effort to help our health care professionals and fellow Americans,” he said.
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