WATCH | Mitchells Plain family uses 3D printers to make free masks for the elderly

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You hear the beeps and buzzing of the seven 3D printers hard at work as you step into Marshall Nelson's home in Mitchells Plain.

Nelson and his family started producing 3D printed face visors to hand out in their community - doing their bit to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. 

The machines melt rolls of plastic filament onto the printing bed to create the components of much-needed safety visors. He told News24 that his children came up with the plan. 

Nelson runs an initiative that teaches people with disabilities how to build 3D printers. They use the printers to manufacture drone parts. His project is currently on hold during lockdown, but he decided to put the printers to use, and set things up at his home instead.


'I know we can't help everyone in Mitchells Plain… But our aim is to help those we can assist'


"One day, we were watching TV and saw how people were using the printers to make masks," he said.

"That is when my daughter said we have the same machines [and asked] why can't we do the same," Nelson explained. 

The dad of three only agreed to the project once he got 100% commitment from his children.

After 48 hours and some research, they managed to set up all of the machines and to get a stencil for the visors' headband.

Soon after, they were able to programme the machines to churn out 20 masks, per machine, every 24 hours. 

While Nelson keeps an eye on the printers, his daughters assemble the masks.

Marté, 13, cuts laminated plastic into A4 pieces, while her sister Maté, 9, separates the headbands and smooths them down. 

To date, they have produced and handed out 500 completed masks. The high rate of unemployment in the area has inspired the family to give the masks away for free.

Unemployment

"We stay in a community where unemployment is very high. Many of the residents can't even afford to buy bread. Where are they going to get money for a mask?" Nelson asked. 

He has handed out masks to the elderly at the day hospital and other areas in Mitchells Plain. 

"We're not saying if you are younger then you are excluded. The elderly is just more at risk of contracting the virus and that's why we want to protect them first," he explained. 

"I know we can't help everyone in Mitchells Plain… But our aim is to help those we can assist," Nelson said. 

Nelson has appealed to the public to help by donating A4 laminated sheets and filament for him to continue producing visors for the community.

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