RINCON – The need is great, but the time left to fill it is not.
Recent Effingham County High School graduate Mathiew Tackitt wants to make as many masks as possible before heading to Georgia Tech for further education. He and his friend Chris Larson, a former classmate from Effingham County who is due to leave for Columbus State University soon, are determined to help people protect themselves from COVID-19.
âOne weekend ago, we handed out about 164 masks,â Tackitt said.
Tackitt focused his attention locally at first, but it widened considerably.
âIn fact, we are reaching the whole country,â he said. âWe have received many requests from California, New York, Las Vegas and Texas. We constantly ran ads on Facebook and Instagram to try and get people to see who we are.
Named Medical PP3D, Tackitt’s project began in April when, using 3D printers, he began making plastic mask straps for local healthcare professionals. He has donated more than 2,500 straps – designed to relieve strain on the ears of mask wearers – to essential medical workers in Effingham County.
Eventually, he and Larson started making full face masks that they donate. their about $ 1 to build a mask. They made several thousand bracelets and over 500 of them.
âAt the very beginning, we were mostly funded by donations and in fact it’s still our main form of income,â Tackitt said, âbut we also opened an online clothing store. We’re getting a little bit of income from it, but it hasn’t really hit as many people as we had hoped. “
Tackitt used GoFundMe to get his first donations. Then, stationed in a tent in the parking lot, he began to seek financial support at Walmart every Saturday.
âOur goal is to help the community because a lot of people who need help don’t have access to that stuff,â Larson said. “We want to be there to provide them.”
Demand for masks has exploded in recent days as the rate of COVID-19 infections has increased locally and nationally. Savannah Mayor Van Johnson recently signed an executive order requiring people to put them in public spaces.
It takes two and a half hours for a printer to make nine straps. Tackitt has seven printers in his room, which allows him to make 500 masks a day.
Medical PP3D is also making a device that will open doors and punch buttons on the elevator.
“We’re now open to the public and business,” said Tackitt, whose dining room table was lined with boxes of its products to be delivered free of charge to their recipients.
The August 5 start to school year in Effingham County will create an additional need for masks, Tackitt added.
âThat’s the thing,â he said. “We make a mask that is one size, but with the straps you can adjust it to the heads of children and the like.”
Larson, who deferred the sewing to Tackitt, described the arduous process of making the mask.
âI’m going to cut it and put the straps on,â he said. â(Tackitt) will then sew the mask with the straps on and we will pleat it. There are a lot of different models that we have.
The duo’s designs feature farm scenes, Independence Day, and horses.
âWe’ve been through a lot of designs,â Tackitt said.
Tackitt and Larson considered making masks that include the logos of Effingham County and South Effingham High Schools.
âThis is one of the ideas we had,â Tackitt said. “Maybe we wanted to score some things, but we don’t have a lot of help.”
Tackitt and Larson need help as the time they can spend making masks is decreasing. Both will be leaving for college in a few weeks. Their universities prohibit keeping 3D printers in their dormitories due to the heat they generate.
âWe are concerned that after I leave everything will dissolve,â Tackitt said. âIf we had more help, maybe we could go through the school year and keep going.
âThese printers are going to have to stay here and what we want to do is give them back to the community. We thought we would donate them to Effingham College & Career Academy or the local library just to be open to the community.
âIt would be a great resource that other schools could use as well,â Larson added.
To volunteer or donate money to the nonprofit Medical PP3D, contact them at [email protected] or www.medicalpp3d.com, a web page designed by Tackitt himself. He is also reachable via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
âI really want to see this thing continue but I won’t be able to do it on my own,â Tackitt said.
âA bunch of people here are selling them for around $ 10,â Tackitt said. “It’s a high price.”
Tackitt and Larson said it costs