Seven members of the South Carolina National Guard (SCNG) are on a 20-day deployment…in The Citadel’s library. The group is helping construct N-95 face masks from 3-D printed materials to protect healthcare workers against COVID-19.
They are assigned to be part of a collaborative team that includes three Citadel faculty members and several cadets and students, volunteers from The Rotary Club of Charleston, Coastal Carolina University, and some community members who have 3-D printers at home.
The goal, with the help of a grant from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, is to make 1,000 medical grade face masks for the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).
Brig. Gen. Brad Owens recently visited campus from the SCNG headquarters in Columbia to tour the operation. He is director of the Joint Staff SCNG.
“Each mask takes about ten hours to print, then about two hours to assemble,” Danial Hawkins explained to Owens. Hawkins is the Academic Technology Librarian for the college and directions operation in The Citadel Maker Space.
One of the dedicated volunteers, Col. Skip Fink, USMC (Ret.) and chairman of the local Rotary Club’s Veterans’ Committee, explained to Owens how the filters for the masks are created. “We are using micron filter material that is turned into an accordion-like filter and glued in place. There is also an extra filter flap that moves as the person breathes.”
Each part of every mask must be assembled by hand.
The group told Owens that close to 600 masks have already been delivered to MUSC to keep their healthcare workers protected from COVID-19.
Before Owens left, he thanked the soldiers for their work and gave the SCNG Staff Sergeant William Able a challenge coin. In addition, he presented a plaque to the president of the Charleston Rotary Club, and to the college’s director of library services commending the efforts of their teams.
“We are tasked by FEMA to overcome COVID-19. We are in this community. We are a part of this community, and we are proud to be a part of this collaboration,” Owens said.