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Fort Peck Tech Prints Reusable Masks

Fort Peck Tech Services in Poplar has a mission to provide work assistance for the contracting needs of area residents.

Manager Larry Neutgens told the Northern Plains Independent that they have started utilizing six 3D printers to make masks for medical staff in the state. He said the masks are being sent to Billings Clinic and may be redistributed as needed to other hospitals and clinics.

The masks are designed to be used together with disposable masks, extending their usability and making it possible for medical personnel to clean and disinfect the devices between uses.

“We can produce as many as 12 masks in a 24-hour period,” said Fort Peck Tech’s procurement officer and IT specialist Lars Mikkelsen.

Mikkelsen has been running the operation, keeping a close eye on the printers, which can malfunction, creating a mess of melted plastic instead of the completed parts needed for the masks.

Neutgens and Mikkelsen said the printers, which cost around $3,000 each, were purchased to use for another project and to expand the company’s production capacity.

Dusty Richardson, Colton and Spencer Zaugg, Billings Clinic and High Tech Filters provided the ideas, designs and implementation for the masks. Mikkelsen said the design was free and open source. Fort Peck Tech had Kodak PLA material needed for the masks already, enabling the team to print masks in several colors.

According to general design specifications provided by Mikkelsen, existing clinical masks can be used as filters. The plan involves cutting the masks into 2.5=inch squares, multiplying their utility by a factor of six.

For more information about the design, visit Fort Peck Tech can be reached at 768-3535.

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