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French 14-year-old makes hospital masks on 3D printers

A 14-year-old boy in Paris is making hundreds of protective face masks from his bedroom using 3D printers, after realising that a nearby hospital was in dire need of more supplies in the fight against Covid-19.

10 April 2020
By Connexion journalist

Roméo Estézet, who lives in the 13th arrondissement, makes the masks using three 3D printers in his bedroom. He can make three masks per 30 minutes, and has already made 200 masks in less than a week.

The masks are in a “visor” style, with a plastic, transparent visor wrapped around a tough but flexible plastic cable that holds it in place on the wearer’s head.

(Photo: 3d4better.mystrikingly.com/ Screenshot)

The teenager has been interested in 3D printers for three years, but only produced his first face mask using the technology in early April.

Now, the printers run from 8h to 22h to produce enough for workers at the nearby Peupliers hospital, and Roméo delivers them each day at around midday. He delivers at least 15-20 per day.

Roméo told news service FranceInfo that he found out the hospital was looking for extra masks from a forum online.

He said: “Someone posted on a platform to connect people who need masks with those who make them. I saw that the Peupliers hospital, which is just next door [to my house], was asking for 250 masks, so I took the order.”

“At the beginning, my mother wasn’t that interested [in 3D printers] as she couldn’t see how they could be useful to me, but now she has changed her mind.”

(Photo: 3d4better.mystrikingly.com/)

His mother Julie is now helping with the mask production, and was the one who helped Roméo to amass the three 3D printers in the first place. As well as the one Roméo already owned, she helped pick up one from his collège, and another belonging to his classmate.

Julie said: “Judging by the welcoming response we had from the hospital, we felt that they really had an urgent need for these masks. The big question was how were we going to expand our printing [operation].”

Ghizlane Ed Dkhaissi, manager of the Covid care unit at the Peuplier Hospital, said: “When we received the first masks, we thought ‘this is great’, but then when we saw who was making them for us, it was even more surprising. It’s very moving that he is as invested as this at his age.”

Roméo has now inspired several of his friends to make masks from home, too, and is seeking to expand his operation further, as well as produce videos online to show others how to do the same.

As well as continuing to supply the hospital, he has said he would also like to offer some to elderly care homes, to GPs, and to supermarket cashiers within 1 kilometre of his house.

A crowdfunding page has now been set up to help support the operation (on its website), and Roméo has also received free materials from the Lille 3D printing manufacturer Dagoma, and 3D printing platform United 3D Makers.

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