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Two Nashua District educators 3D printing PPE

By ADAM URQUHART - Staff Writer | Apr 4, 2020

Two Nashua School District educators are using four of the district’s Makerbot 3D printers to make N95 masks in their Goffstown home. (Courtesy photo)

GOFFSTOWN – Two Nashua School District teachers have taken it upon themselves to step up and help meet the needs of first responders who rely on face masks to protect themselves while working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Head CTE 0teacher at Nashua High School North Christopher Knoetig and his wife, Erin Knoetig, who teaches photography and a drone class at North found themselves at home during the statewide school closures as students transition to remote learning.

Christopher realized equipment that could be used to make masks was just sitting idle at the school, so he brought four Makerbot 3D printers from the school to his Goffstown home to begin printing N95 masks.

Friday marked a week since the couple began printing masks, and they have since been able to produce more than 100.

“We’re hearing across the country that the N95 masks are in critical shortage,” Christopher said. “You can’t find these things anywhere you go. You can’t find them in the stores, you can’t find them online. It’s just a nightmare, unfortunately.”

In talking to local hospitals, Christopher said they are using the N95 masks that they have, and seem to be managing OK. However, he believes they are starting to feel the pressure, which is being seen more so in metropolitan areas of the country, such as New York City, for example, which has been referred to as the epicenter for the pandemic.

Christopher has heard some on the front lines in New York City are reusing the same masks for upwards of two weeks.

“They are really struggling down there,” he said. “I have friends and family who work as part of the NYPD, and they’ve been told to recycle their masks for like two weeks now.”

The couple has connections in NYC, and on Thursday, they finished printing 70 masks that will be assembled and delivered to the Big Apple.

The couple expects the masks will be ready to ship early next week.

Mike McQuilkin, the director of the Nashua Technology Center at Nashua High School South, said Christopher is the definition of a team player.

“He is a valued colleague by all who work with him,” McQuilkin said. “He is doing a tremendous service for our community.”

Locally, they have been in contact with the United Way of Greater Nashua, and through that communication, have since learned the YMCA of Greater Nashua could use at least 10 masks.

Christpher also said that Lamprey Health Care is looking for 24 of the masks.

On Monday, the couple will donate those two mask requests to the United Way, who has been connecting them with Nashua organizations in need.

Christopher said they will be responsible for finishing the masks and then distributing them to areas of need.

Additional materials are needed to finish the masks, and there still is a cost associated with bringing all the masks together.

If people would like to help support the couple’s efforts moving forward, they can do so by contacting Christopher at knoetige@nsd42.net.

Christopher also said officials at Catholic Medical Center are looking to test-fit the masks as well, and that an urgent care facility in Goffstown is looking for 40 masks.

“Right now, the hospitals are kind of like, ‘hey, hold off,’ but I don’t foresee it being too long before they will be asking for them as well,” he said. “It’s just they have such a critical shortage right now.”

While utilizing these four Makerbot 3D printers, they are able to produce about eight N95 masks every six hours, for an average production of about 24 masks a day. They run three, six-hour shifts on the printers before giving the machines a break to prolong their lifespan.

“I feel like our country should have enough supplies, and I feel like if we have the means to help out, I think it’s silly to sit here in my house and do nothing,” Christopher said. “We have the means and can help offer support.”

Adam Urquhart may be contacted at 594-1206, or at aurquhart@nashuatelegraph.com.

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