During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a manufacturing shortage of a small part used in fittings for N95 masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE). Rutgers School of Dental Medicine (RSDM) student Michael Masino then got to work.
“It’s super necessary for the fitting because it takes this foul-smelling liquid and aerosolizes it so you can tell if the mask is airtight,” said Masino.
The staff at Rutgers’ University Hospital asked RSDM if it could try using its 3D printers to make the part, but the dental school could not figure how to make the small perorations it required.
Masino, who began a career as a biomedical engineer before enrolling in dental school, then joined the project and figured it out. Since then, their work has resulted in 45 devices being used for fit tests to help protect faculty, staff, and students from infection.
The project reminded Masino that craft and technological innovations are a large part of dentistry, just as they are in engineering, especially when they’re in the service of helping others.
“Being able to transform someone’s smile, it takes a little bit of artistry, a little bit of engineering, and a doctor’s skill,” Masino said. “Being able to do something for someone and making them happy makes a world of difference to me.”