KELOLAND community using 3D printers to create personal protection equipment


WATERTOWN, S.D. (KELO) – With the coronavirus pandemic spreading across KELOLAND, people are coming up with creative ways to help those on the frontlines.

Mark Iverson is an eighth-grade science teacher from Watertown working from home, but he’s much closer to the pandemic than it seems.

“Yeah, my wife is actually – she works at the hospital part time, but she’s also a nursing instructor at Lake Area,” Iverson said.

Some of those students are working in area hospitals to fight off COVID-19. Seeing a need, and already having two 3D printers in his basement, he soon got to work printing off personal protection equipment. Soon after, he began partnering with the volunteers at lake area tech, and just Tuesday, earned a $3,000 grant from the Watertown community foundation.

“So, I’ll be getting another 10, 12 printers that we’ll start using then will actually be then donated to the school then,” Iverson said.

So far he’s made around 40 masks, 20 visors, and several ear-saver straps that will be donated to area hospitals and first responders for free.

A mask printed by Iverson.

“So, I’ve just been putting them in zip-lock bags and dropping them off in mailboxes, that kind of thing. I’ve also been bringing a bunch of them to Lake Area and letting Brooks handle the distribution,” Iverson said.

He’s not only making a difference in his community, as inspiration has traveled south to Harrisburg where innovative programs director Travis Lape is doing his part. Right now, he only has one travel size printer, but he’s carrying a big load.

“I’ve got over 100 orders for these right now,” Lape said.

He’s only printing off the ear-savers, which he’s found there to be a big need.

“When we put this out there, the people who have a reached out and said, ‘oh my gosh this would help me,’ ‘I’m wearing the mask 24/7 and my ears are very sensitive in the back,’ ‘this hurts,’ ‘these would really help,’ ‘how many can I get,'” Lape said.

A couple of Lape’s clips being worn by medical staff.

He has a tote set out on his doorstep. He keeps the orders in zip-locked bags for them to pick up.

“My hope is to get anywhere from 20 to 25 done a day, and, so, we really looked at that and, hopefully, by Friday I would hit that 100 mark,” Lape said.

“I’ll keep going as long as there’s a need. I’ll keep helping in any way that I can. It’s a hobby, so it doesn’t seem like work; it’s kind of fun,” Iverson said.

Bringing a new dimension to how people can help out.

Jenkins Living Center medical staff receiving PPE printer by Iverson and volunteers from Lake Area Tech.

Iverson and Lape encourage anyone with a 3D printer at home to take part. If you would like to help, you can contact them on Facebook.

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