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Alumnus devises design for 3D-printed masks to help medical professionals

UNG alumnus Mark Causey helped devise a design for 3D-printed masks to help medical professionals fighting COVID-19.

Dr. Mark Causey was determined to find a way to help amid the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). The Cumming, Georgia, orthodontist and 2006 University of North Georgia (UNG) graduate sought a few different avenues until he found an area where he could assist.

Upon hearing from his wife about people sewing masks for medical professionals and seeing a mask design online that he thought could be improved, Causey worked with engineer Daniel Bauen and a lab technician from Causey's office to design a mask opening that was wide enough for a filter and could be 3D-printed.

Causey began 3D-printing the masks, in which he used high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters that allowed air to pass through. He then posted the design online so others could print the masks to help medical professionals on the front lines of the COVID-19 response. Causey warns that the masks are not approved by the FDA or the National Institute of Occupational Health & Safety, so they should be used at medical providers' own risk. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posts guidelines about the ability to make homemade masks during shortages of approved personal protective equipment (PPE).

Causey said about 7,500 people downloaded the design to print their own masks. He received photos from numerous medical personnel using the masks and messages of support, but he also felt the sting of the still existent shortages. A dropbox in the back of his office allowed people to drop off masks they had printed.

"I've had so many people reach out in the community asking how they can help," Causey said. "In a time of need, Americans step up and really want to help each other out."

Causey earned a biology degree from UNG and serves on the Nighthawks Athletic Club Board. He won the Young Alumnus Award in 2015 from the UNG Alumni Association and served on the Young Alumni Board.

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