Return to Headlines

BCSD joins mask-making brigade for MUSC

Published on Wednesday, May 20, 2020

masks with well wishes written on them

BCSD provided photo / Masks sported well-wishes for the medical community after being printed.

Shortly after the school buildings closed in response to COVID-19, there was a local need for medical masks to protect those who work in healthcare.

After joining a collaboration started by The Citadel, Berkeley County District’s technology staff members utilized 3D printers from the schools to help produce more than 400 masks to be sent on to the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).

In March, as the COVID-19 pandemic threatened a shortage of protective masks, biomedical engineers and tinkerers from MUSC developed the Self-Assembly Filtration for Emergencies (or SAFE) Cartridge System. It is a modular HEPA filtration system that can be fitted onto hospital masks such as the disposable AeroEclipse Aerosol Mask made by Monaghan Medical Corporation.

The S.A.F.E Cartridge System can also be fitted onto 3D printed masks while maintaining functionality.

The main body of the S.A.F.E Cartridge System is made of 3D printed material (PLA) and can be printed on any FDM printer. There are four 3D printed components: the cartridge, lid, shield, and valve protector (click here for more details).

MUSC’s 3D printers are not production-level printers, and because of the time element, the hospital openly released the plans so anyone with a 3D printer could help out.

The Citadel coordinated an effort to collect 3D printed masks to be forwarded onto the hospital. A team consisting of James Bezjian, Daniel Hawkins and Sarah Imam went to work using the MUSC 3d printed design. 

Bezjian is a professor of entrepreneurship and the director of the Innovation Lab in the Baker School of Business. Hawkins is an Academic Technology Librarian who also serves as the faculty advisor for the student Makerspace Club. Imam is a professor in the Department of Health and Human Performance. 

West Courtney, one of Bezjian’s students who just graduated from The Citadel this semester, wanted to help out and connected with Coastal Carolina University to have the college utilize its own 3D printers to assist in the effort as well. 

Berkeley County School District then jumped on board. Phil Sheridan, innovative learning coordinator for BCSD, said the district got involved after seeing a request for printers to help create the masks.

Sheridan said the district collected 16 3D printers from some of the district schools and divided them up among the members of the technology department to print masks and cartridges at home. They then sent the mask pieces to The Citadel, which handled all the sanitizing, assembly and distribution of the masks to the hospital.

“3D printers ran around the clock,” Sheridan said. “It takes about four hours to print the parts needed to assemble one mask system.”

Every week BCSD staff members would consolidate the parts produced, boxed them up and shipped them to the team at The Citadel. The district sent enough parts to create 450 masks.

Courtney said the original goal was to collect about 100 or so masks.

“They knocked it out of the park,” he said.

Courtney said between BCSD, Coastal Carolina University and The Citadel, close to 1,000 masks were sent to MUSC – a bulk of that number came from BCSD.

“That was pretty nice to hear,” Sheridan said.

Sheridan said the district has currently stopped producing the masks as the status of masks needed has changed, but staff members will finish assembling what they have and submit them to The Citadel.

“They’ll have those in case there’s a need,” he said.

Courtney said The Citadel was pleased to see the support the project received.

“We were thrilled about the amount of people who actually stepped up to help,” he said.

Monica Kreber