AVON LAKE, OH — In the age of the new coronavirus, countless heroes have found creative ways to protect other people. In Avon Lake, those heroes look like a budding 3D printing coalition molding mask bands for front line medical workers, first responders and even the U.S. Navy.
The entire endeavor started on something of a whim, according to Matt Collier. His family has a 3D printer and was scrolling through files of things they could print. Listed on one website was a design for a band to strap a mask around a person’s head. They decided to give it a try.
The Colliers printed mask bands for anyone they knew who requested one. When the requests began pouring in, the Colliers decided to expand their printing power. They recruited three Avon Lake residents, all with their own 3D printers: the Rollins family, Hayden Hodge and Carter Knox, an Avon Lake High student and president of the school’s robotics club.
The 3D printing coalition called themselves Team Lake Bands. And with their expanded printing capacity, they began fulfilling orders for the Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth and the U.S. Navy. They’re preparing an order of 400 bands for Grafton Prison’s guards now.
“Most of us are printing five to 20 bands every 2 to 2.5 hours,” Matt said. “Carter has multiple printers at his house, so he can do a bit more. We do six bands every two hours. It’s a slow process.”
In fact, for the Colliers, the printing process is an all-day, all-in affair. The whole family helps with printing the bands and packaging them.
“It’s a nice family bonding thing. It also brings it more home because everybody is on it. All of our printers run for 18 to 19 hours a day. If a job finishes at 1 a.m., you have to set an alarm to get up and change the bands,” Matt told Patch.
After the bands are printed, the family sterilizes the band, packages it and ships it out.
When a local news outlet highlighted the work being accomplished by Team Lake Bands, the mother of a U.S. Navy sailor reached out. Her son was setting sail soon and she wanted to send him and his shipmates masks.
“So we partnered to make 300 masks and bands and shipped them out to the Navy,” Matt said.
Anyone looking to acquire mask bands can email Team Lake Bands at [email protected] The group does not accept payment for their services, but they do take donations to cover the cost of materials, like PLA filament.
Donations can be sent via the following services: