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The Lookout | April 18, 2021

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Early college student printing masks

Early college student printing masks masks

By Maddy Warren
Staff Writer

LCC student Elijah Fink started making masks for local healthcare workers the week of March 29. Fink is a third-year student in The Early College program at LCC. He is majoring in engineering and design.

He started making masks using a 3-D printer he built in 2016 while he worked at TinkrLAB in Okemos. He was also trained on how to use it.

“Melissa, the owner of TinkrLAB, she sent me the files for the 3-D printer mask … and then told me the settings to set the printer to, so that it can work the best,” Fink said.

The files consist of three components: the actual mask, the front grill, and a square that holds the filter in place on the inside of the mask.

TinkrLAB is located in the Meridian Mall in Okemos. It offers retail, birthday parties, field trips and classes.

“We are a STEAM learning center, so we focus on science, technology, engineering, arts and math, and getting that program to the kids,” said founder and owner Melissa Rabideau.

“(It’s) kind of like Build-a-Bear but more for robotics, 3-D printing (and) engineering kind of things.

“I reached out to (Fink) when I started this project because I wanted to see if he could help us out since I knew he had a printer,” said Rabideau. “We have lots of people that have taken classes with us or other people that aren’t necessarily employees, but they purchased printers with us. I reached out to them as well.”

The masks are being donated to Sparrow Hospital, urgent care sites and other facilities in the state where healthcare professionals work.

“We have a really big workforce doing this, so it’s not just our area, per se,” Fink said. “It kind of branches out from here, so when people need supplies and materials they can come here and grab some.”

Fink said the volunteers are trying to set up locations in other areas so that people do not have to travel far to get the materials they need.

Rabideau said volunteers are also making face shields for workers.

“It’s a visor that’s printed on the 3-D printer and then the shield itself is laser cut on our laser,” Rabideau said. “We have the two files because it varies as to what (the health professionals) need, so we’re able to help a lot more with the two different types of files.”

“We have a team of about 200 people that are using their printers at home and so to have (Fink) be part of that team has been great,” Rabideau said. “This project is only possible because individuals are donating their time and the use of their printers and so that’s what’s making this have such a big impact.

“Elijah was one of the first ones that jumped on board with this right away and so he definitely was part of the initial team that got all this rolling.”

Rabideau said they will continue to make the masks and visors until donations run out, or there is no longer a need for them.

“We’re just really happy that we can use the assets that we have as far as the printers and the connections to people to help out with this,” Rabideau said. “It’s really cool to see what’s unfolded over the last two weeks.”