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3-D PPE Printing Program

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3-D PPE Printing Program

Contra Costa County Library, Calif.

Health & Wellness | 2020 | Honorable Mention

Innovation Synopsis

A program to redeploy masks received from the national stockpile with faulty elastic bands by developing and printing clips using 3-D printers from the library and community "makers."


When PPE equipment was in short supply due to increased demand and disruptions in the supply chain, the need in our county was unique. Contra Costa is one of a small number of California counties operating a county hospital and clinic system. A shipment from the national stockpile arrived and a significant number of masks were found to be unusable due to failing elastic bands from improper storage. The value in the masks was too great and it was clear that a solution to redeploy masks to first responders was necessary.

Key Elements of Innovation

The health department created 3-D printable “clips” that could be issued to individuals allowing for masks with faulty elastic bands to be redeployed. The clips would have a new elastic band attached allowing for masks to be discarded at the end of their useful life, but the clips and band could be retained for use with a new mask. The library dedicated several 3-D printers, running nearly 24 hours a day, to the project.

Achieved Outcomes

The project produced well over 3,000 sets of clips allowing more than 200,000 of the previously faulty masks to be redeployed. In addition, the program expanded to producing “Montana Masks,” which are full masks printed on a 3-D printer that allow the user to insert filter material, like cloth, which can be replaced over time. The county has produced approximately 150 “Montana Masks.” The printer files are available at no cost to any community maker interested in assisting in production for county or community use.