Father and son dentists 3D printing reusable face masks

The masks can be reused and the filters can be swapped out
Posted at 7:44 AM, Mar 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-29 09:44:23-04

HOLLADAY — As personal protective equipment supplies start to run low, more people are coming up with creative ways to will the gap.

Dr. Cody Boseman at Cottonwood Dental and his Father, Dr. Jerald Boseman, who works at the University of Utah School of Dentistry, would usually use their 3D printers to make dental molds, but seeing as they can only do emergency work right now, they're using the tech to make face masks instead.

"The cool thing about these masks is they are reusable. You can sterilize them and you can change out the filters," said Cody.

The owner of Cottonwood Dental said he got the idea from a couple of people who were doing something similar online, and he settled on a design from a brain surgeon in Montana.

At the moment, Cody says he and his dad have printed between 10 and 12 masks, but they take quite a bit of time to make.

Printing them alone takes about four hours. Cody's printer can make one in four hours and Jerald's printer can make two in four hours due to it having a larger area to print on.

Jerald said, "As Cody got involved with 3D printing masks, we decided that we would use both printers to print the masks and the students will be able to see us 3D print things that are useful as well as useful dental items."

Once the masks are printed, they need to sit in an alcohol bath for ten minutes, be cured in a light box to stop them from being sticky, and then have the rough patches filed off.

Then a filter is attached in one of two different ways, depending on the design. One is fastened with rubber bands and the other clips into place.

The next step is customizing each mask to the person that will be wearing it.

"To customize the masks, we use some dental materials to seal it up right around our face and we close the gaps, because obviously everybody’s face is a little different and to get pure filtration you need to have a good seal," said Cody.

The materials used to make each one comes out to about $5 to $6 per mask.

The masks are printed using a resin, which is different from the 3D printers that use filament.

The resin costs about $250 a bottle and Cody says he hasn't gone through a whole one with the masks he has made so far.

For now the father-son duo are focused on making reusable masks for their staff, but they are not ruling out helping those in need.

Cody said, "Once I have it figured out as to how we can customize it for the masses I’m going to start donating them to whoever needs them."

"We would be happy to make one if someone truly had a need for one," said Jerald.

Cody said he reached out to the company that makes his 3D printer to see if they would be willing to donate some resin to help them make masks for other groups of people who may be in need. He has not heard back yet.

The owner of Cottonwood Dental is encouraging anyone with a 3D printer to download the files and make masks for those who might need them.