College faculty using 3-D printers to create face masks for medical staff

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MARTINSVILLE, Va. (WDBJ/WVIR) — Faculty members at Patrick Henry Community College and at the University of Virginia are using 3-D printers to help keep medical workers safe, at a time when protective equipment can be in short supply.

A University of Virginia professor is printing and cutting out face masks at home to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Source: WVIR)


A University of Virginia engineering professor is doing his part to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by creating protective equipment.

Keith Williams is using a 3D printer and an automated cutting machine at home to create stencils for re-usable face masks. He creates a frame for the masks so the fabric material can be replaced after each use.

Williams emphasizes the masks are not made to medical standards but can be printed on demand for use when better alternatives are not available.

If you’re interested in using Williams’ model to 3D print or cut face masks, please contact him at:

Patrick Henry

The Fab Lab at Patrick Henry Community College's Idea Center aims to be Martinsville's hub for innovation.

The 3-D printers at the center have been quiet since COVID-19 cut them off to the public this Monday. That was until college president Angeline Godwin had an idea.

The machines are now making medical face masks for staff at Martinsville Sovah Hospital.

"We are working to make 150 to 200 face masks with the materials we have here," said Fab Lab coordinator, Chris Wagoner.

The mask protects staff from splashes or sprays of fluid and takes around three hours to print, Wagoner says they're bringing in all of their printers to ramp up production.

In a statement, Sovah Health officials said they are not short on supplies but as cases are starting to pop up in our region, Patrick Henry is hoping their effort to will help the hospital stock up and brace for what's to come.

"Taking the preventive measures is what is going to help if it does come this way, and I feel like it's better to be prepared to confront it head on," said Matthew Ratliff, Community Development Coordinator at Patrick Henry Community College.

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