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  • Writer's pictureDr Dan Shaffer

Respirators for Fire Fighters A story of succcess

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During these uncertain times with the COVID-19 virus, CAD-Ray has been on the front lines in the 3D printing and 3D design movement trying to help print masks and other goods for Healthcare workers on the front lines.

The other day, one of our CAD-Ray team members needed some help of his own

Story by CTO, Jonathan Acker

It gives me great satisfaction to write this blog post. We are living in a strange time, and I’m glad to be able to share a positive story during this COVID-19 outbreak. This story bridges the gap between my worlds, and shows how the dental industry has A LOT to give during the fight against the virus.

Besides getting to work everyday at CAD-Ray with the most innovative team and customers in the dental profession; a life-long passion of mine has been serving my community in the role of firefighter/EMT at the Fallston Volunteer Fire and Ambulance Company in Harford County, Maryland. I’ve been riding ambulances and fire trucks since I was 16 years old – for the last 5 years at this department in the town where I reside. When I’m not working or home with my family, I can be found driving the ambulance, providing patient care as an EMT, or responding to the fire and rescue calls in our community. Holding the rank of captain, one of my roles is to ensure that all of our men and women in the Fire/EMS service have ample PPE to serve the public in a safe manner.

On Tuesday night March 24th at about 9 PM, the assistant chief of the department was inquiring if we knew anyone with access to a 3D Printer. I let him know that in my day job, I have access to many great dental labs who are experts at 3D printing. It turns out, this connection would allow us to solve a big problem.

Mask Mounted n95 filter 

The Problem – Missing the needed adapter

The solution – 3D printed 40mm adapters

In the midst of a massive PPE shortage because of the COVID-19 virus, equipment like N95 respirator masks are hard to come by, and are IMPERATIVE to keeping first responders like the members of my department safe as they interact on 911 calls with the public.

One potential solution to the lack of N95 masks is a filter fitting (that are readily available) that could snap into a firefighter’s own personally issued mask. This is the same mask that firefighters and medics would use to connect to their breathing apparatus regulator in the case of a fire. This seemed like a great solution for our department because it would adapt to our already existing equipment and avoid the use of disposables during this shortage –  except there was one problem – there is a specific 40mm circular adapter that is required to fit the mask mounted housing for the filter to the filter itself – and due to the shortage of supplies – this small part as NOT AVAILABLE FOR 10 WEEKS.

Luckily,we were able to get an  OPEN .STL file of the part we needed. So at 9:30 PM, with the .stl file ready to share – I reached out to some friends in the dental lab business via text, email, and of course, facebook.

Within Minutes. Adam from Triple Crown Lab in Maryland, Rachel from Best Dental Studio in Maryland, Dr. Ho representing BARAN Dental Lab in Virginia, Colin from Red Mountain Dental Arts in Washington, and Rob from Patriot Dental Lab in Michigan all had responded saying they would be happy to help. I sent the file out and awaited some news.

By 11 PM Rob at Patriot Dental Lab had told me that one of his Technicians, Chad was already in the lab loading up resin, and getting the first 9 adapters printed. ( We need 20-40 for the department). By 2 PM the next day I had a message from Rob saying our first batch was printed, and on the way, and by 10 AM Thursday, we had our first set of adapters in hand, verified their fit and function, and issued to members of our department. An additional 18 are on the way from Rob as well as some others from the above mentioned labs.

Needless to say, I am so greatful to all of the lab owners who jumped in to help our department in our time of great need, especially Rob from Patriot Dental Lab who jumped out of bed, got to work and had these much needed parts in our hands in less than 30 hours, from 10 states away!

Dentistry, especially our great labs have so much to give during this time, and on behalf of and the Fallston Volunteer Fire and Ambulance Company commend and thank all of you true Patriots who jumped in to help when we needed it most. It will never be forgotten!

When the time comes, please don’t forget to give Rob and all the labs above a shot next time you need some lab work done – they are In it for the RIGHT reasons. .

Adapter in place 

Adapter in place with n95 filter

Ready to serve!

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