University of Memphis using 3D printer to make mask parts for medical personnel

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The University of Memphis joined the fight to protect medical professionals from COVID-19. One of its engineering labs began using high tech 3D printing to make one of the most important parts of a protective facemask - not the shield, but the frame itself.

At least 60 of those frames were sent to LeBonheur Children’s Hospital last week.

The director of the lab told FOX13 he and other researchers jumped at the opportunity to help fight the pandemic. Doctors told the U of M scientists what they needed and it was made to order.

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A protective facial shield is nothing without the frame to hold it. That’s what scientists at a University of Memphis Metal Lab created using a 3D printer.

“The frame to hold the shield that is what we are printing so the shield can be attached to the frame,” Dr. Ebrahim Asadi, assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering told FOX13.

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Each frame takes three hours to make and the lab has multiple printers working 24 hours a day to manufacture as many as possible.

“Like everyone else you think to yourself, ‘Is there something else I can do?’” said Asadi.

The U of M lab contacted the state to help produce the frames to increase supply for the protective mask. They’re producing newer ones that can be used more often than the current models.

It was a challenge that grad student Matthew Markham volunteered to accept.

“We told they were in short supply pretty much across the nation and we are doing what we can across Tennessee,” Markham said.

The lab has produced more than 135 frames that will be used across the state.

But Doctor Asadi told FOX13 that 52 of them were delivered to LeBonheur Children’s Hospital last Friday.

“We do research with the hope that we are helping society but seeing immediately that this is going to help people save lives - it is just amazing,” Asadi said.

What makes these frames so important is that they can be cleaned and recycled, extending the life of one frame as it can be used countless times.

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