A 3-D printing machine is what Flint-area Dr. Bobby Mukkamala and his son Nikhil use to create a much-needed item during the coronavirus pandemic.
“This is the very first layer of this print and so you can see it printing out like this,” Mukkamala said.
And after many more layers over the span of two hours, the final product is a 3-D printed mask.
“They get molded to the face so they're kind of custom fit,” he said.
It’s an idea that came from a website focused on making a positive impact in the midst of a pandemic.
“We downloaded that file from ‘hack the pandemic’ and it’s basically the template,” Mukkamala said. “It’s the program that tells the printer what to print.”
Dr Mukkamala says, the 3-D printed masks can be worn by themselves or on top of scarce N95 masks.
“The end purpose of this is to not let viral particles in, so it’s not just for show it needs to be functional,” he said.
And even if it's not used at hospitals, he believes it’s an educational experiment that will keep parents and kids at home productive.
“To learn something new about programming and technology that they can use when all this blows over,” Mukkamala said.
So far, he's given a few 3-D printers away to neighborhood kids.
“If it’s not enormously useful medically at least it passes the time while everyone is social distancing and isolated at home,” he said.