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    2ID Soldiers Design 3-D Masks to Fight COVID-19

    2ID Soldiers Design 3-D Masks to Fight COVID-19

    Photo By Maj. Tifani Summers | CAMP HUMPHREYS, Republic of Korea –Soldiers assigned to 4-2 Attack Reconnaissance...... read more read more



    Story by Capt. Tifani Summers 

    2nd Combat Aviation Brigade

    CAMP HUMPHREYS, Republic of Korea – The COVID-19 response is a global effort, and United States Forces Korea has been relentless in its measures to squash the curve during the pandemic. The health emergency in South Korea inspired coalitions of seamstresses, small business owners, and veteran owned organizations to produce baked goods and cloth masks to raise morale and increase the availability of masks to the general public.
    But what if your organization had Soldiers with access to 3-D printing, an engineer, medical expertise, and they wanted to use those skills to design a reusable mask to be used by community and medical users alike? Would you encourage those Soldiers to use their skills and produce results?
    That’s exactly what USFK’s COVID-19 Science and Technology Advisor Team aimed to accomplish. The mission: create reusable masks made by Additive Manufacturing (AM), better known as 3-D printers.
    When USFK’s COVID-19 STAT reached out to leaders assigned to 4-2 Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 2nd Infantry ROK/US Combined Division, to discuss the mask project, Soldiers were more than ready to brainstorm and create a quality product. Aviators and mechanics assigned to 4-2 ARB had already begun producing tools and jigs with 3-D printers in August to support maintenance operations and sustain combat power.
    “The benefits of AM is that you don’t have a whole production line that has to be retooled to produce something different. It’s very easy to type some new code, load a new model, and produce something completely different with the same material. As it relates to tool production it turns a two man job into a one man job and also increases the safety of a job so there is less risk to damage components,” said the Delta Company commander and project designer, Capt. Edward Bullard.
    Bullard, a native of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, studied structural engineering and architecture in college before deciding that flying for Uncle Sam was more fun!
    “When our battalion commander, Lt. Col. Ryan Sullivan, asked me if I was interested in the project, I personally got involved to see if I still had my skills in draft and modeling. For me it’s more of a hobby. About six years ago I bought my first components to buy a 3-D printer and I’ve been doing so ever since. I currently have three in my Senior Living Quarters right now.”
    Bullard’s first designs were submitted to the National Institute of Health for them to test and were subsequently given a certification that allowed mask printing as long as they are labeled “For Community Use Only”.
    While Bullard was focused on the reusable mask design, Capt. Tylor Connor, 4-2 ARB’s flight surgeon, and Westlake Village, California native, was focused on ensuring the masks could hold up to the toughest of quality controls. “Prior to going to medical school, I studied biochemistry at University of California Los Angeles and had some industry experience as a pharmaceutical quality control chemist at 3M, where I tested aerosolized pharmaceutical against various filter media.”
    On this project Connor’s focus was aimed at infection control. Employing the use of the microbiology department at Brian D. Allgood Army Community Hospital Connor set out to conduct trials on the mask materials. One of these tests calls for infecting each piece of plastic with a bacteria, then disinfecting and monitoring whether there is growth afterwards. These type of tests will ensure the material stands up to bacterial elements with various cleaning solutions.
    During the initial planning phase of the project Bullard and Connor solicited feedback from the Combat Capability Development Center on what types of filters to use and sourcing options. The National Institute of Health 3-D mask files can be downloaded and printed out by anyone at home. Bullard, along with other collaborators like the Office of Naval Research and Futures Command are working to achieve not only a better community-use mask but also a technical data package. They want to eliminate guess work by outlining testing procedures, best print settings, and part orientation to make it easier for someone who is less experienced with 3-D printing to manufacture a satisfactory product.
    Connor emphasized, “We are shooting for a slightly higher level of performance than a typical cloth mask. The team is using electrostatic cloth, thermoplastic, filter-media in the front, and valves that redirect exhaust and get rid of carbon dioxide or other vapors so it doesn’t get soggy or fog the user’s glasses. The filters being used filter down to 99.97 percent of .3 micron particles. The respiratory droplets that get into your respiratory tract that cause transmission of a virus are typically 3-10 microns.”
    Connor and Bullard carefully took into account mask fit and what materials are being used around the bridge of the nose and down around the user’s chin. These community-use masks form a seal so that when you breathe the air drawn in goes only through the filter and not around the mask; thus preventing infection. The team has now produced and distributed 20 masks to healthcare workers at Brian D. Allgood clinical departments within the last couple days.
    Bullard concluded, “What I am holding in my hand looks very different from what we initially started with. I would call this version 5.4. Ultimately, what we’ve got is a very small part of this large global effort, but we hope it can be replicated anywhere there is a need.”



    Date Taken: 04.23.2020
    Date Posted: 04.30.2020 01:46
    Story ID: 368829
    Location: CAMP HUMPHREYS, KR 

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