LIMESTONE — Maine School of Science and Mathematics has two community members working toward being part of the solution in the Covid-19 pandemic. Eli Wales, a sophomore from Mount Desert Island and Dr. Greg Hamlin, computer science instructor at MSSM, have been using 3-D printers to create full-face shields and ear strap holders for local hospitals.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention designates full-face shields as preferred Personal Protective Equipment, according to a news release from Ryan McDonald,
summer programs director and public relations coordinator at the school.

Eli Wales, of Mount Desert Island, wearing a 3D-printed mask. Wales is a sophomore at the Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Limestone. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Wales

Wales joined a team of about five members with skills in 3-D printing and an interest in helping the situation. Prior to the Governor’s edict to stay home, Wales and his team went around to schools in the Mount Desert Island area and borrowed Flashforge Finder 3-D printers that have been donated to many Maine schools by the Perloff Family Foundation.

“Each member of the team has created a small production line where we make as many ear strap holders as possible,” said Wales, according to the release. The purpose of the ear strap holder is to keep the face shield’s elastic band off the ears, which can hurt after wearing it for a number of hours. Wales has personally produced around 700 of the strap holders and other members have made about the same. He noted they have only made about three face shields and taken them to local hospitals to make sure they will be acceptable.

Elastic band holders. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Wales

Hamlin, using 3-D printers and materials from the Limestone school, has been producing protective face shields for use by local healthcare providers. He has been running two of the school’s printers 24/7 producing plastic frames, which are then fitted with a transparent front panel made from overhead transparencies or similar material. An initial set of 40-plus units has been provided to Cary Medical Center in Caribou.

“We were fortunate that the school had the supplies and equipment on hand for the project, so it was just a matter of setting things up in my guest room and keeping the printers supplied with filament,” said Hamlin, according to the release.

Maine School of Science and Mathematics is the state’s first tuition-free, public, residential high school, currently ranked second best in the nation.

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