All the masks that are fit to print

Thomasville Times-Enterprise, Erik Yabor
Family’s 3D printers churning out masks.
THOMASVILLE — A local family is commandeering 3D printers to pump out hundreds of face shields for medical workers on the front lines of the battle with the coronavirus.

The massive project began when Will Hanna, a teacher at Thomas County Middle School, obtained permission to use several 3D printers which are typically designated for classroom use. Joining Hanna at TCMS are digital learning specialist Matt Casper and teachers Tammy Sharpe, Ashley Palmer. Also contributing to the printing project are Kendra Burrus of Brookwood School, Wes Sampson of Bishop Hall and Kristin Blough of Cairo High School as well as Dan Bellamy, Ryan Jorge and Brandon Ray.Together, the group has been printing hundreds of face shields practically nonstop for the past week and a half.

“We’re close to probably 900 delivered,” Hanna said.

Most of those face shields are heading towards local priorities: Archbold Medical Center, nearby first responders and doctors’ offices in the area. Hanna said about 50 face shields are being delivered daily to Archbold. Others have been delivered across the state to hospitals in Atlanta and Savannah and even as far away as Mississippi and Kentucky.

The shields Hanna is producing consist of a clear particle shield extending downward to cover the wearer’s face. The shields protect the wearer’s eyes, nose and mouth from any matter that could be splashed on through a patient’s cough.

Four 3D printers are running constantly at Hanna’s house, turning the family’s living room into a manufacturing zone.

“We have a constant white noise of printers going,” Hanna said.

“When it gets quiet in the house we go ‘uh-oh, what’s wrong?” said Hanna’s father Michael, a physical therapist at Archbold’s Outpatient Rehabilitation Center.

Aside from TCMS, the Hannas have received help from local businesses, including Ponder’s Office Products and Rumbles Office City.

“It’s spread throughout the community really nicely,” Michael said. “There are a lot of individuals in the community that have stepped up and given checks t
hat were intended for the Thomas County School System designated for filaments.”

With help from John Wagner of Bayly Inc., a local hat manufacturer, the Hannas are creating a new face shield design that combines their 3D-printed materials with an injection- molded headband.

“(Wagner) showed us one of his bands that we could quickly adapt to a new design that Will did overnight,” Michael said. “It clips on and it’s actually really cool.”
By outsourcing part of the project, the Hannas are expecting to double their production of face shields over the next week.

The entire project was bome through Hanna’s care for his own mother. Hanna had seen some posts online of face shields being made using 3D printers to protect medical personnel from the coronavirus. When Hanna learned that his mother Martha, a nurse practitioner at a local pediatric center, had been having difficulties with her own personal protective equipment, he decided to take matters into his own hands and printed her a custom face shield of her own.

“All of a sudden her whole office all wanted one,” Hanna said. “Then friends of theirs wanted some and all of a sudden we were off to the races trying to make as many as we could.”

Hanna said he’s always looking for more supplies, especially 1.75mm PLA filament — the plastic spool that feeds into the 3D printer to create the face shields. He also needs clear transparent printer paper for the shield itself and, of course, more printers.

Anyone who wishes to contribute materials or another 3D printer to the project can contact Hanna at whanna@
Located in Thomasville, GA, Brookwood School is a private school for grades JK-12. Students benefit from a challenging academic program, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.