Local Hero

Lots of heroes emerge in times of disaster. From neighbours delivering groceries to the vulnerable, to police topping up the electricity meter of an elderly man who was without power, to people donating meals to frontline workers.

One of the heroes in my local community in Aberdeen is Artur Banach who has been printing face masks for front-line workers using his 3D printers. In his work life, Artur makes dimensional surveys both onshore and offshore for the energy industry. These surveys are laser scans that provide multidimensional points that replicate the dimensions of objects like underwater pipes. The 3D printer provides him with helpful tools for this work.

I’ve always been fascinated by 3D printers. That you can create a multi-dimensional object using a printer seems like magic to me. Artur has two 3D printers: an Anycubic i3 Mega and Ender 3 Pro. The face masks are based on a design he found online but modified slightly for better comfort.

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Artur can print two face masks at a time, taking 2 hours on one printer and 3 hours on the second printer. Each facemask also needs reinforcements and he can print about 10 of these at a time, taking 4 hours. He needs 20-30 of these per day.

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As you can see, Artur’s house – to use his words – is like a “mini factory”. It’s a family affair with Artur’s wife helping to assemble the masks. Assembling them all takes about an hour each evening. So far they’ve made 150 masks after 12 days of production. In the first week, they were able to make 10 masks per day but production has increased to 30 per day after Artur purchased a second printer. These masks have been distributed to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, local care homes, and a COVID testing facility.

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If you want to help Artur he needs raw materials like elastic, filaments, and binding covers to make the masks. The PETG filaments used to make the masks have gone up in price by 30%. Some materials are also in short supply with long delivery times and lack of availability. Aside from the raw materials Artur already had in the beginning, the entire process is funded entirely by donations. If you want to help Artur you can donate money to cover the cost of these materials here:

Donate to 3D printing face shields for NHS

And for any geeks out there like me, here are a couple of videos of the printers in action:

I asked Artur a bit about the technology of 3D printing. He said,

“It is called FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) which basically melts plastic and extrudes it over the preprogrammed path over X, Y and Z axis. The theory behind it is super simple. The printer only knows where to move the hot end, what is the amount and speed of movement and how much extrusion is needed. It uses “gcode” which is a text file with 1000s of lines of codes and cartesian coordinates.

This particular technology has very wide usage in pretty much every aspect of engineering, not to mention it’s a great hobby, fantastic opportunity to learn 3D CAD design and to expand the knowledge of how stuff works. Kids enjoy it as well because it’s “so cool” as they say :)”

He’s got several designs for things he’s made with the 3D printer online.  They’re useful for so many things, including trays for sorting lego.