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Using 3D Printing to Help During the COVID-19 Crisis

Author: Kelsey Ratliff

Originally from San Angelo, Texas, Kelsey studied architecture and healthcare design at Texas Tech University, where she met her husband Cody. Kelsey moved to Austin and joined the Cornerstone team in 2016. Kelsey is currently a project coordinator and is a huge asset to our residential design department as well as our Revit leadership team. You can always count on Kelsey and her positive attitude and kind spirit in all she does! Kelsey and Cody were married in the Spring of 2017.


It was a couple of years ago that my husband, Cody, and I got our first 3D printer. We were surprised at how quickly they had become affordable for casual users, and we found plenty of things to print on it. With our background in architectural design programs, we were able to design some things to print ourselves, but one of the amazing things about the 3D printing world is the great community around it. Many people have designed a huge variety of objects and made the models available for free online. From brackets for a shelf I was building, to an intricate helix-style Christmas ornament, to extremely detailed replicas of historical buildings (something we couldn't resist with our architectural backgrounds)!

Despite the fact that we'd used the 3D printer for a combination of useful and fun projects, the idea of using it to help out with the current COVID-19 pandemic didn't initially occur to us. It wasn't until one of our relatives, a nurse in Dallas, reached out. They were being told they would need to start reusing their medical face masks to conserve resources, and therefore inquired on the capabilities we had with our 3D printer. It was amazing how the 3D printing community came together, quickly developing a digital model of a re-usable face mask. This article discusses how people around the world are working together, including some in the medical community, testing and updating each other's models. Quickly, a model of a face mask became available online which would print as easily and quickly as possible. The face mask design would also fit in a way that it does not have to be customized for each wearer. And this model, which we used, is available free to anyone with a 3D printer!

The mask is printed in 2 parts, the main piece which fits against the wearer's face and has an opening near the mouth. The second piece is a plastic grid that snaps into the opening of the first piece, and a small piece of a filter can be used to fill the square between these two pieces. With this mask, a single face mask can be cut into 6-10 pieces and used for a much longer period of time.

It has been truly amazing to see how many people are coming together with the convenience of the internet and modern technology to help out where they can in this pandemic!

For more info on how you can help by creating these 3D printed masks, please email Kelsey Ratliff at



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