Jeff Simon’s office at Payson High School has turned into a manufacturing lab.

It is all part of the Payson Unified School District’s effort to help keep medical workers safe.

Last week, they fired up three 3D printers at Payson High School to print respirators for health providers at Banner Payson Medical Center.

Simon, PHS principal, and Bruce Cancasci, with the technology department, are spearheading the project.

They have moved the printers from the school’s STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) lab into Simon’s office so he can monitor the printers and re-load filament as needed. Simon is one of the few staffers still working at the school, with teachers working remotely from home because of the coronavirus.

So far, the hospital has put in an initial order of 45-50 masks.

It takes about nine hours to print a mask and each machine can print three masks simultaneously. If Cancasci gets the 3D printers working at the other school sites, he thinks they can print 18 masks simultaneously.

Facilities, including schools across the world with access to 3D printers, are producing items to help, such as facemasks, respirators and ventilators.

Cancasci said his wife, who works at Banner Payson, read an article about such work two weeks ago and asked Cancasci if the high school could use its 3D printers to print masks.

Cancasci said he looked on Thingiverse, a website with user-created digital design files, and found plans for a mask to which you can add a disposable filter.

Simon and Cancasci said it feels good to help.

“For me this is really cool that we have the opportunity to contribute to a bigger issue,” he said. “We are able to do our little part.”

Lance Porter, CEO of Banner Payson, said the work being done by the high school is extremely innovative.

“With the early rapid growth of the pandemic N95 masks have become difficult to obtain,” he said. “With the high school we have done some initial testing and have sent it on to the Banner Innovation Group for further testing and to make sure it is effective against the virus. If it works, this might be a great idea for not just Payson, but the Banner Health system. The 3D printing community has been very active during the pandemic and has come forward with some very creative solutions.”

He said a local resident recently donated 50 face shields he made with a 3D printer.

Cancasci said once they fill the order for the hospital they plan to keep making masks and distributing them to organizations.

“The opportunities are endless,” he said.

Simon said they wouldn’t be able to print the masks without the support of the Caris Foundation, who donated the money to build the STEAM lab.

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