Teacher’s efforts unmasked during COVID-19 crisis
A 3D printer and a staunch dedication to his local community were all it took for Lake Macquarie teacher Jason Horadam to tackle the COVID-19 crisis face-first.
The Dudley Public School Assistant Principal last week teamed up with fellow teacher and friend Craig Smith to start churning out homemade protective masks for local GPs and other medical professionals battling to stem the global pandemic.
Using a 3D printer normally deployed for classroom lessons, and a template shared online, the pair have already produced dozens of masks.
And demand is growing daily.
“The media was constantly reporting on the shortage of PPE world-wide and we had the resources to help out, so we really couldn't say no,” Horadam says.
“People working on the frontline of this pandemic should have the protective equipment they need.”
“I've only been 3D printing for just over a year now but I've always had a great interest in the ways in which new technology can be incorporated into meaningful learning experiences for K-6 students.”
“Up until now, I’d only ever used the printers for student design tasks and for my own personal training, but we’ve had interest in the masks from many different medical and dental practices, and even aged care facilities.”
Once printed, the frames are attached to sheets of clear plastic laminate purchased at Officeworks.
Each finished mask costs only about $4 in materials to produce.
Keeping up with demand is a constant challenge, with construction of each mask – including 3D printing and assembly – taking about five hours.
Juggle that with ongoing teaching for his students, home-schooling for his own kids and maintaining Assistant Principal duties, and there’s barely a spare moment to plan the next move.
“It is actually really tricky at the moment and I've had quite a few late nights since it came out in the media,” Horadam says.
“Of course, family and work will remain priority number one and two but this is a worthwhile way to use my free time.”
“I have felt a great sense of pride from being able to help medical professionals, who I usually go to when I need help.”
Equally heartening has been the reaction from the wider community, with other budding 3D-printing ‘makers’ getting in touch to join the cause.
“It has been great to see how many people are keen to get involved,” Horadam says.
“There have been a lot of people and organisations coming forward to say that they’d also like to print shields, so we’ve been providing the resources to get them started.”
The design can be found here, while assembly instructions are here.