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UM supplying 3D printed face masks to Alabama hospitals, first responders

A group of employees at the University of Montevallo are putting their expertise and resources to work for the state’s health care industry in an effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

A few weeks ago, Michael Price, the Digital Media and Emerging Technologies Librarian at UM’s Carmichael Library, heard news reports about hospitals across the nation facing a severe shortage of personal protective equipment such as face masks due to the pandemic.

After reading about people using 3D printers to create personal protective equipment to donate to health care facilities, Price knew he could do the same. He originally reached out to Shelby Baptist Medical Center in Alabaster, which said it would be happy to accept the 3D printed face masks.

Price then contacted his colleague Kyle Moore, assistant professor of theatre at UM, who also had access to a 3D printer. Together, the two used their expertise to create a plan to help the hospital by 3D printing as many protective face masks as possible for Shelby Baptist.

Price and Moore received support from Dr. David Callaghan, chair of UM’s Department of Theatre, Carmichael Library Director Dr. Charlotte Ford and UM Associate Professor of Theatre Emily Gill, who helped to secure material to use for straps on the face masks.

In the past few weeks, the group has expanded its efforts to include health care facilities in Decatur, Huntsville and Mobile.

To date, UM has helped the following health care facilities:

-70 masks donated to Shelby Baptist Medical Center.

-50 face masks donated to Shelby Ridge Rehab Select in Alabaster.

-37 face masks donated to the Decatur Fire Department.

-40 face masks donated to University of South Alabama Health University Hospital in Mobile.

-About 30 face masks are being shipped to the Huntsville Chamber of Commerce to distribute to health clinics throughout the Huntsville area.

“I am so grateful for the way our University family has stepped up to help others in a time of crisis,” said Dr. John W. Stewart III, UM president. “Michael and his colleagues are to be commended for their creativity and leadership related to the mask shortage. I am very proud of them.”

Anyone interested in supporting the cause can donate 2.85-millimeter PLA filament or 1.75-millimeter PLA filament used to print the masks or elastic straps to attach to the masks. To make a material donation, contact Price at mprice3@montevallo.edu.

To make a monetary donation to the project, use the form on the UM Giving webpage and designate the gift to “UM 3D masks.”