STURGIS, S.D. (KELO) — In efforts to fight off COVID-19, a Sturgis motorcycle welder is teaming up with Strider Bikes. Together, they’re creating 3D printed masks for first-responders and health care workers.
Joe Mielke has been in the metal welding business for about two decades. He says over the years he has gained a lot of connections with people all over the world.
“And watching what they were doing through social media and knowing that I basically had the resources to do something here. Well there’s no reason I can’t use my time and my resources to potentially fill a need here,” Joe Mielke, owner of Snap Fabrications, said.
Joe Mielke started making masks around April 2. Since then, he’s made 80 or so masks that have gone to frontline workers in the area and across the nation.
While Mielke’s 3D printer is normally used for quickly making models. It’s being used to prints layers of this mask.
“This mask it has a positive seal that seals right against the wearers face and then has a filter and a shield to protect the filter so you are breathing in and out of a filter element and air doesn’t get in through the sides of the masks,” Mielke said.
Strider Bikes also has a 3D printer. The children’s bicycle company is now creating parts of the masks that Mielke needs.
“So we had some downtime and we’re more than willing to use our machine to start printing the masks,” Kent Jacobs, product development manager at Strider Bikes, said.
It takes about five hours to make one mask. But with Strider Bikes and Joe Mielke working together, it speeds up the process.
They donated about 20 of the masks to the Rapid City Fire Department.