LIVINGSTON, NJ — Many Livingston residents, including kids and teenagers, have heeded the call to help make personal protective equipment (PPE) masks and other items for first responders and healthcare workers.

Students and staff from the Livingston High School (LHS) Technology and Family Consumer Science Departments are also using 3D technology to help address the shortage of PPE facing local medical workers

The students have already produced 237 3D printed masks, 394 3D printed face shields, 190 sewn masks and 10 button headbands that were distributed to healthcare facilities and first responders as follows:

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  • 54 face shields to West Caldwell Care Center
  • 60 sewn masks and 10 button headbands to Rahway Hospital
  • 12 3D printed face shields to Morris County Corrections
  • 12 3D printed face shields to Triboro First Aid Squad
  • 42 3D printed face shields to Hackensack Hospital
  • 20 3D printed face shields to the Kinnelon Police Department
  • 6 3D printed face shields to the Newark Police Department
  • 24 3D printed face shields to Saint Barnabas Medical Center
  • 12 3D printed masks to the Berkeley Heights Police Department
  • 50 face shields to Morristown Medical Center
  • 12 face shields to the Dumont Police Department/EMS
  • 24 face shields to Clara Maass Medical Center
  • 24 face shields to Englewood Hospital
  • 12 face shields to local funeral homes
  • 125 3D printed face masks and 100 3D printed face shields to The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood
  • 105 cloth masks to the Atlantic Health System in Morristown
  • 100 3D printed face masks to Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark

The district's 3D printers and sewing machines have been relocated out of schools and distributed to students and staff. Parent advisor Alex Tsymbal recently started a GoFundMe page to finance the purchase of materials.

Members of the Livingston Robotics Club (LRC), which is not affiliated with LHS, started making face shields using a 3D printer on March 28 and have since donated about 350 masks to the Livingston Police Department, the Livingston First Aid Squad, Saint Barnabas Medical Center, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, University Hospital Emergency Room, Jersey City Medical Center, Morristown Medical Center and Holy Name Medical Center.

“This has been an incredible effort from students, parents, coaches, friends of Livingston Robotics Club and Livingston residents,” said parent coach Surasit Nithikasem. “Within less than two weeks since LRC sent out a call to action, we have recruited a small army of 3D printers, evolved the face shield design for several iterations, procured materials (transparency sheets, elastic band, foam tape, and plastic filament) and received financial and material support from several dozen donors.”

According to Nithikasem, the LRC also made demo equipment using a Pepsi bottle, and a healthcare worker was able to determine which prototype would better suit the needs of the recipients.

“We called for LRC teams to help in modifying a popular 3D face shield design made by Budmen Industries,” said Nithikasem. “Three current LRC teams and a former team of Livingston Robotics Club (grades 7-10), Spongebot (Robocup Jr. team), Thingamabot (FIRST LEGO League team), Flame Machines (FIRST LEGO League team) and Promethio (a former member of the club), corroborated on the redesign through a daily conference after school.”

Once the masks were created, LRC members delivered the new design to a hospital department to perform a field test for several days.

“Two LRC teams, Exit 5A Robotics and Exit 6 Robotics, and other friends in the neighborhoods helped in printing them while our design was evolving,” said Nithikasem, adding that the LRC managed to reduce the printing time to about half of the original duration. “Our final face-shield frame design cut down the printing time from almost two hours to one hour and four minutes to print a shield. Our final designs were published to the NIH 3D Print Exchange website for a review for clinical use.”

Due to the quarantine, all face shields are being printed at individuals’ homes.

“We also received help from the SOMA NJ 3D PRINTERS ALLIANCE in exchanging some printed parts with them to keep our daily deliveries going,” said Nithikasem.

As of this week, LRC has been printing about 50 masks a day and expects an increase in production next week after getting more printers online.

Another teen responding to the need for masks is LHS student Dylan Benzi, who explained that the shields are not too difficult to print.

“Just throw the files into Cura, which translates the models into language a 3D printer can understand,” said Benzi, who noted that the masks he has been printing were designed by a neurosurgeon.

Benzi said he has been able to print one mask every two-to-three hours at home and plans to donate them to Saint Barnabas Medical Center.

Other Livingston teens, like Izzy Kudish, are hand-sewing masks at home.

Kudish explained that she learned to sew at school in third grade as part of a “Future Fashionistas” fashion design program and utilized those skills again at Heritage Middle School while working on the stage crew for the drama club.

She was inspired to start sewing masks fort those in need after seeing Livingston resident Jamie Karlin’s post on LTown Lowdown’s Facebook group offering to loan out her sewing machine and another post from Dana Platnik offering to donate fabric for mask production.

When an anonymous donor provided Kudish with flat elastics, Kudish got to work experimenting and studying mask-making videos online.

Kudish soon had 25 masks ready to be donated, and Taryn Berkowitz delivered them to nurses at Newark Beth Israel and Overlook Medical Centers on Kudish’s behalf.

Those looking to assist in the purchase of supplies so that these students can continue their charitable work can contact Benzi at dylanbenzi@gmail.com, Kudish at lorikudish@gmail.com or visit the LRC's website.

Berkowitz, who recently shared an Atlantic Health tutorial on how to make face masks, urged anyone else who is able to sew masks to contact her at tarynromy@gmail.com.