Cedarville student helps develop 3-D masks to combat COVID-19

Cedarville University sophomore Connor Hart is putting his education in 3-D printing to work during the COVID-19 outbreak — printing masks that could help medical professionals and nursing homes during the pandemic.

MORE: CORONARIVUS: Complete coverage from the Dayton Daily News

Hart hails from Loveland, and is majoring in mechanical engineering. He says he can make eight masks a day through his 3-D printing equipment and has printed and shipped 25 masks so far.

Hart said each mask is reusable. One can last for months if it is sanitized effectively and the filter is changed regularly. The Hands of Hope Foundation he founded has shipped masks to medical agencies, including a nursing home in the village of Holgate, Ohio, near Toledo.

As a freshman, Hart founded the Hands of Hope Foundation, and started creating 3-D prosthetics for children with limb differences.

Since social distancing got underway, Hart stopped meeting with his clients, but switched to printing masks that could help medical professionals and nursing home workers.

MORE: What’s the result of toilet paper shortage? You guessed it, clogged pipes, say area plumbers

“What I love most about working for Hands of Hope is knowing I am positively impacting the lives of both our clients and volunteers,” Hart said. “Knowing I provided joy to someone else with no strings attached is what keeps me smiling and driven toward giving others the same opportunities I have been given.”

Hands of Hope started in September 2015 when Hart and three classmates at Milford High School in Milford, Ohio, volunteered to create a 3-D-printed prosthetic for Hope McGill, a 7-year-old girl from the community missing her left arm from the elbow down.

MORE: Kroger to add sneeze guards at checkouts, allow employees to wear masks and gloves

“Hope was adopted from China. She had been taught from an early age to hide her arm, making her self-conscious about it. Because of the prosthetic, Hope became more confident in her little arm,” noted Catherine McGill, Hope’s older sister and a Cedarville student.

Hands of Hope became a club at Milford High and made prosthetics for three other children. However, in the spring of 2018, the school dropped Hands of Hope as an extracurricular group because of a lack of interest from the student body.

Hart then transformed Hands of Hope into an official nonprofit and invited McGill to serve as its media director.

Hart and McGill created The Hands of Hope Foundation’s chapter on Cedarville University’s campus. This was made possible by Cedarville’s school of engineering and computer science.

“Connor went the extra mile prior to coming to campus for his freshman fall semester,” said Robert Chasnov, dean of the school of engineering and computer science and senior professor of engineering. “He needed a space for the 3-D printers he uses to manufacture the hands his team would be designing. Since we had a project lab that was being used primarily to store mobile test equipment, I set him up in that space.”

MORE: What you need to do to get your government stimulus check

About the Author