When Granville resident Susan King's neighbor, Dr. Cara Harasaki, texted her asking if she knew anyone who had 3D printers, one of the first people King reached out to was her brother-in-law, Greg King.
The inquiry would set off a collaborative community effort to 3D-print masks for healthcare professionals on the frontlines of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Greg King teaches engineering, math and computer science at Dublin Coffman High School and the Dublin City Schools' Emerald Campus. He also coaches the Dublin robotics team.
He said students from his engineering classes and robotics team are collaborating with Delaware County EMS; doctors; Columbus Industries Inc., and air filter producer; and Andy Bruening, director of Bridge Programs at the PAST Foundation to design and print masks.
Those printing masks are primarily doing it with 3D printers they have at home, King said. Bruening was able to take several printers home from the PATHS Foundation, he said.
Some of the money raised from the gofundme.com Ohio Save a Hero: Coronavirus Healthcare PPE Fund is going toward purchasing material to print the masks, King said.
That fund on April 9 was at $25,694 of its $50,000 goal, he said. The money goes toward not only the production of 3D masks but also sewing teams working on gowns and shields.
A $500 Dublin Innovation Grant and money raised by the Dublin Robotics Boosters is also contributing to money necessary to 3D-print, King said.
About 200 to 300 of the printed masks will go to Delaware County EMS, he said. Two hundred masks will also go to an Ohio State University partner organization in Honduras.
Local clinics have begun asking about the masks, King said, as have contacts from elsewhere in the state.
Lt. Travis Ries with Delaware County EMS said the 3D-printed masks will be used if other reserves fail.
The department has about 1,500 N5 masks for an organization of about 1,230 people, he said. Ideally, the masks are supposed to be discarded after wearing, he said.
Since EMS personnel wear the masks during an emergency run, they are able to store the masks in such a way that they can use them multiple times, he said.
King said he finds making the masks personally rewarding.
"It's nice because you feel kind of helpless," during the pandemic, he said.
And when he reached out to his students to see if they wanted to get involved, he said, a couple were already talking about doing something similar.
"It's serendipity," he said. "A lot of things came together at the right time."
Dublin Coffman High School sophomore and robotics team member Alex Glaubitz, 16, said he is printing masks from the 3D printer he has at home.
He said if people have the ability to provide assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic, they should consider helping.
"I think it's kind of cool," he said, knowing that he is helping contribute to the project.
Coffman Junior Ria Singhal, 17, is also printing masks from her home.
Singhal, a member of the leadership team for the Dublin robotics team, said she enjoys 3D design and innovation. Using those to help others, she said, is meaningful to her.
Also partnering on the project is Bruening, director of Bridge Programs at the PAST Foundation. PAST stands for Partnering Anthropology with Science and Technology.
The foundation is a nonprofit organization.
The PAST Innovation Lab, created in 2015, is an independently owned and operated research and design prototyping facility.
Bruening said he and King worked together teaching classes as well as coaching robotics teams.
When King reached out about printing masks, Bruening had already been thinking about how to use students' 3D-printing skills to meet the needs for masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bruening said his robotics team from Metro Early College High School, King's students, and robotics teams from Worthington Schools, Grandview Heights Schools and St. Charles Preparatory School are helping to print masks.
Organizations and companies often support robotics teams when they compete, Bruening said, and students are always looking for ways to give back.
"They know the community supports them," he said.