Charlottesville shoe company uses 3-D printers to develop respirator masks for first responders

Updated: Apr. 1, 2020 at 6:10 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A Charlottesville shoe-making company is switching its focus from feet to the face in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Owners of OESH Shoes are taking their expertise in 3-D printing and using them to print durable, reusable respirator face masks for emergency responders.

“We said ‘shoot, we can make material that’s flexible like this, this is the perfect material to make a facemask,'” OESH co-owner Dr. Casey Kerrigan said. “I’m a physician. I’ve been in communication with all my physician friends. The biggest need we have right now are for masks.”

Kerrigan edited a file already available for 3-D printing to develop the mask’s design, which is reusable, she said, emphasizing the only discardable part is the filter material inside.

“That’s what's critical and these masks is having a good fit. So just like in our shoes, where we have to make all different sizes to fit a foot. We can make all different sizes to fit a face,” she said.

For each pair of shoes purchased, the company will donate a mask to emergency responders in the area.

“The force really behind all of this as our customers that customers are making this all happen. And they, we've just been getting overwhelming support from them to help out,” Kerrigan said.

For a link to the 3-D mask design, please click here.

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