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Bioscience district’s 3D printer used to make surgical masks

By April 27, 2020 No Comments

April 27, 2020
Temple Daily Telegram | By Janice Gibbs

The Temple Health and Bioscience District, along with SiMMo3D, are working with Baylor Scott & White-Temple to design a surgical mask that can be printed on the district’s 3D printer.

SiMMo3D is a tenant of the Bioscience District lab and office facility. It develops and manufactures medical models used in education and medical training.

The Bioscience District board agreed to support the effort with $5,000, and to look for support in the community.

Tami Annable, Temple Health and Bioscience District executive director, said she was working with Baylor Scott & White-Temple and the Baylor Scott & White command center in Dallas.

“There is critical shortage of surgical gowns and N95 and surgical masks,” Annable said.

The N95 masks would require Food and Drug Administration approval so the district decided on making surgical masks, which would likely have a quicker turn around.

“Credit for the mask design goes to the (National Institute of Health/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) in collaboration with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Veterans Health Administration, and America Makes,” said Colin Dodson, co founder of SiMMo3D.

Medical grade resin was used in the initial mock-up and resulted in a too rigid mask, Annable said.

SiMMo3D started adding a more flexible resin to the material. The third try appeared to work the best, she said.

Five individuals at at the Bioscience District wore the masks for at least four hours over a weekend to determine if there was going to be any irritation, there wasn’t. The masks can be sterilized and reused.

“Shannon Wetherbee, executive assistant at the Bioscience District, wore it for two days so she deserves kudos,” Annable said.

The District’s 3D printer can make 11 masks a day, seven days a week.

“Over the next several weeks we’ll make as many masks as we can, while we can,” said Thomas Baird, president of the board.

Area Rotary clubs are going to help pick up the costs of manufacturing the face masks, Annable said.

“It’s all about protecting the health care workers and to illustrate what the Bioscience District can do to help Baylor Scott & White, Annable said.

The board unanimously decided to waive the April and May 2020 rents for its tenants.

“I think it’s the right thing to do,” Baird said.

The only tenant who has been coming to the facility is Dodson from SiMMo3D to help with the surgical mask project.

The Bioscience District is working with real estate advisory firm Newmark Frank and Knight to determine how to best adjust its focus. When the Bioscience District was formed, the science landscape in Temple was different. With the assistance of the Bioscience District, Scott & White and Texas A&M recruited renowned researchers and were instrumental in developing a west campus as its research facility. Texas A&M University Medical School had a large presence in Temple and had researchers both at Scott & White and at the Temple VA.

The Bioscience District will continue to focus on startup companies while also supporting the new project to engage medium and and large life science  programs.

Newmark Frank and Knight is working with the organizations to develop a science eco-system study to be used to attract new businesses to the area.

The Bioscience District Board is developing committees that will be made up of executives and business leaders who will help lead the effort.

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