09:02 AM

Ark. Member Produces Surgical Mask Straps with 3D Printer

Capt. Bradley Kidder
Arkansas Wing

With COVID-19 presenting challenges to traditional American life, an opportunity for creative service was not lost on 1st Lt. Justin Ragsdale of the Arkansas Wing’s 99th Composite Squadron.

In response to a request from his wife, Audrey, 3D printing hobbyist Ragsdale put his equipment to work producing more than 400 surgical mask strap holders for Memphis-area hospitals.

A resident of Bartlett, Tennessee, Ragsdale commutes across the Arkansas state line to West Memphis, where he serves as his Marion-based squadron’s aerospace education officer. Lt. Col. Larry Webster, 99th Composite commander, listened to an account of 200 mask holders provided to the hospital where Audrey Ragsdale works, then noted that his own wife had a similar need at a hospital in West Memphis.

In short order, another 200 strap holders were produced by 1st Lt. Ragsdale and delivered by the couple’s son, Cadet Senior Master Sgt. Houston Ragsdale.

“I bought a used 3D printer and used it to print the parts needed to upgrade it to a better version, and also printed the spare parts needed to maintain it,” 1st Lt. Ragsdale said.

“It’s all open source, online and available to everyone,” he added. “I’ve printed quadcopters that actually flew!”

He encourages others to research the terms “open source,” “maker space” and “thingiverse” to better understand how user-supported resources allow activities like printing the mask strap holders to happen.

These crowd-sourced tools enable layman users of software and technology to develop practical applications for relatively sophisticated equipment. Free access to designs such as the mask strap holders and other popularly produced pandemic response items like facemasks and purpose-specific hand tools allow amateur printers to respond to immediate local needs.