At a time when many healthcare workers are facing a shortage of masks, a local orthodontist has worked to develop a stand-in.
After temporarily closing his business, Causey Orthodontics, off Keith Bridge Road, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and hearing of other ways local groups were trying to help provide masks to medical professionals, Mark Causey worked to develop one made from a 3D-printed base and a HEPA filter, like those used for shop vacs.
“As a dentist, I had materials to be able to seal, like I would a denture or an impression tray, to the face,” Causey said. “So, we were able to have all three components – a seal, a filter and a framework – to help maybe alleviate some of the shortages of PPE.”
Though PPE (personal protective equipment) masks are preferred, Causey said the homemade masks – which are not approved by the FDA or the National Institute of Occupational Health & Safety – are allowed by the CDC when those run low.
Causey said he worked with his lab tech and an engineer from Georgia Tech to come up with the design of the 3D-printed framework.
“Together, we developed a 3D mask that could be the framework for a better solution,” Causey said. “People were playing with this before, just kind of as a novelty-type thing, and were printing them, so I was able to get a file, modify it to where the front is kind of like a mason jar, is what I say, to hold the filter.”
Instead of charging for the masks, Causey made them available for download to people with 3D printers, which has been downloaded more than 6,000 times already. A video showing how to use the masks that Causey posted on Facebook has also been viewed more than 90,000 times.
Locally, Causey’s masks have been used by surgeons and other medical workers in Gainesville, and he said masks have also been sent to hospital systems in Chattanooga and Savannah and in “three different surgical settings.”
“I've had people all over the country sending me pictures of these masks,” Causey said.
To ensure a good supply of the frameworks, Specialty Laboratories in Cumming and Dawson and Union County high schools have helped out with the 3D-printing.
Causey is also working with Mercer University officials, who announced this week they would be printing masks based on his design.
“After they got the idea, they put their biomedical engineering team as well as their [3D modeling] teams and engineers in touch with me, so I’ve been working with them as well,” Causey said.
Causey said he wanted to use his time away from his business to do something positive.
“This is just something that I wanted to do to help out the community and help out maybe shortages, and I had the time on my hands and was able to come up with a solution that hopefully will help,” he said.
To download the mask file or find out more information, go to FiredbyCorona.com.