Gateway Extrusions is using its 3D printing capabilities to make and donate face mask extenders for healthcare workers.

Gateway Extrusions is utilizing its in-house 3D printing technology to make and donate face mask extenders for healthcare workers. The idea for this effort came from Gateway tooling engineer Jeremy Halterman, who read about 3D-printed face mask extenders online and wanted to do something to help during the COVID-19 pandemic response.

The company has, for many years, used its 3D printer to design aluminum extrusion cross-section prototypes for its production operations. 3D printing equipment operates directly from electronic file design drawings developed in AutoCAD (or other similar software) to generate 3D models. The printer extrudes ultra-thin melted plastic thread material layer upon layer to build an object progressively.

The extenders take the pressure of face mask loop straps off the wearer’s ears to make the face mask more comfortable to wear for long periods of time while working. The 3D-printed extenders also allow wearers to adjust the mask fit according to head size.

Gateway embraced Halterman’s idea of using its 3D printers and agreed to provide the plastic printing materials and equipment. All face mask extenders printed by Gateway have been donated to healthcare workers.

“Gateway is very proud of the initiative our employees take, and this is another superb example,” says Tom Ziegler, president of operations. “Jeremy shows the difference one person can make to support others at a critical time, and Gateway is glad to assist his efforts.”

Halterman asked several family members and friends in the healthcare profession to let their associates know Gateway would print and donate the face mask extenders. Initially the plastic extenders were donated for workers at local hospitals and healthcare facilities in Missouri, and as word spread about Gateway’s offer, requests came in from states as far away as Michigan and New Jersey. To date, Gateway has printed and donated over 1,000 extenders.