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This Dawson County High School teacher is helping with the COVID-19 outbreak by 3D printing face masks and shields
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Dawson County High School teacher Dusty Skorich with pieces of his 3D printed face masks. - photo by Photo submitted

In the midst of the recent outbreak of COVID-19 cases, a Dawson County teacher has been working to help design and 3D print face masks and face shields.

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One of Skorich's face masks in the process of being printed. - photo by Photo submitted

Dusty Skorich is an engineering teacher at Dawson County High School. When he saw an article about Mark Causey, a Forsyth County dentist who designed a pattern to make n95 masks on his 3D printer, Skorich knew it was something he wanted to help with.

“I downloaded his pattern and we started talking and collaborating on this project,” Skorich said.

The men have submitted their printed masks to Infection Control for North Georgia to test whether the pieces are certifiable as n95 masks. To do this, Infection Control will look at CDC standards and either certify the masks or deny them until changes can be made to meet CDC standards. According to Skorich, the hope is for them to be approved quickly so they can start producing as many of the masks as possible. 

“The idea is to collect as many 3D printers as we can and mass produce,” Skorich said. “We’ll collect the printers from schools to use, and we’ll circulate the design to people who have 3D printers in their homes so they can help print them too.”

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A piece of one of the printed masks. - photo by Photo submitted

The design can take anywhere from four to seven hours to print, depending on the printer, but bulk printing masks can decrease the printing time, according to Skorich. During this printing time, the person operating the printer is fully free to work on other things.

“3D printers can run 24/7 as long as someone is monitoring them,” Skorich said. “You can do this at home while working on other stuff.”

Skorich began 3D printing around seven years ago and has worked with 3D printers in the classroom on both a university and high school level. Teaching and learning how 3D printing works, has proved to be useful in many ways, he said. 

“It’s such a big part of classrooms,” Skorich said. “‘Career tech’ is skills like 3D printing, which as the current scenario shows, is useful in real life.”

Several of Skorich’s students at Dawson County High School have expressed interest in helping with the printing process once they get the green light to begin mass production of the masks. 

In addition to beginning mass production of the masks, Skorich says that his next project he is currently working on is designing and printing face shields, another piece of equipment that are in critical need.

“Right now I’m working on printed prototypes of face shields using transparency sheets,” Skorich said. “So that will be the next thing I send in for approval.”

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The design for the 3D printed masks. - photo by Photo submitted

Throughout the whole process, Skorich says that Dawson County Schools Superintendent Damon Gibbs and Dawson County High School Principal Brody Hughes, along with other school administrators, have been a huge help in providing anything he needs for the project.

“I have to give props to the superintendent and principal for their eagerness to pursue this,” Skorich said. “It’s not often that you see administration willing to go all in to help the community and to urge a process like this forward.”