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caption: Health workers sporting Dusty Strings-designed and manufactured PPE. 
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Health workers sporting Dusty Strings-designed and manufactured PPE.
Credit: Courtesy of Devin Rohrig

When in need, design a mask and print it: A coronavirus success story

There's a lot of tough news out there about the pandemic. But there are also bright moments, where people and neighbors show up for each other.

KUOW’s Director of Community Engagement Zaki Hamid is tracking helper stories. He brought us this one from the Dusty Strings Music Store in Fremont.

Dusty Strings has a wood shop in Interbay, where they make musical instruments. All their staff are either furloughed or working from home. One of them, Bob, called the owner of the shop, Ray, to say his son Devin works at a local emergency room.

Bob wanted to see if Ray had any N95 masks to give to his son. Ray didn’t, but he kept thinking there must be a way to help. He had a 3D printer, so he designed a mask with a headband and sheets of clear, plastic transparency film for a shield.

They made a few samples and the feedback was amazing. The shields were comfortable, worked well, and could easily be sanitized for reuse. Within a few days, a network of volunteers started making the masks. Anybody with a 3D printer could participate.

They started delivering the masks, but there was a glitch. Hospitals couldn’t formally accept them. They said they weren’t sanctioned. However, they said they couldn't bar employees from bringing their own protective equipment.

Dusty Strings started coordinating with the nurses and hospital employees to just give them the equipment. They said they love them — they absolutely love them.

The effort all started with one personal connection. One person said, “Hey, this would be really great to make more people safe and happy.”

So Dusty Strings kind of ran with it. They're also tinkerers — they make really cool instruments, and said they decided this would be a great use of their time and energy.

Dusty Strings DIY page

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Listen to the interview by clicking the play button above.