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3D printed cotton face mask? Read on...

Β· 2 min read

This is a guest post by Steve Wynveen. Steve Wynveen is a mechanical engineer that is a technician at heart.


As you are probably well aware, there is a shortage of PPE for hospital and other medical field staff. Froedert & Medical College of Wisconsin have posted plans for people to sew 100% cotton face masks. Several other patterns for sewists exist as well.

The Froedert ask for public help:

The Froedert mask plan:

One of the more time consuming parts to sew in this plan is folding bias tape in half and stitching it together to form the β€œstrings” that loop over your ear or behind your head. (bias tape is just cotton fiber, cut into strips so that the direction of the weave is at 45 deg angles to the long axis of the tape. Tape is 1.5 or 2” wide). Bias tape has a bit of springiness to it because of the 45 deg weave angle.

How we are helping​

The tool we are 3D printing is, more or less, a funnel that folds the tape back onto itself, so that when it exits the tool, it can be fed right into a sewing machine, or be ironed flat (operators choice?).

Similar commercial tool, in action:

The Social Media Army​

There are two main Facebook groups coordinating sewing of masks in Wisconsin, that I am aware of.

The Masked Sewists for SE Wisconsin (1,629 members)


The Wisconsin Face Mask Warriors (1,003 members)

I started with printing 24 of these tape formers, for a friend of a friend, and ended up getting personally involved; coordinating logistics in addition to printing tape formers. I also recruited two friends with printers to join the effort. Together, we are printing about 240 bias tape formers per day.

The discussions on each Facebook group, getting these printed formers out to the sewists:

The 3D printer brigade​

We are printing 30 piece nests of 4 cm and 5 cm formers. I picked that nest size, as it’s about a 12 hour print, which best lines up with our human sleep schedules, and gets us 60 pieces/machine/day.