#FIRSTfightsCOVID Mask Initiative

In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, healthcare facilities around the nation are facing a shortage of PPE (personal protective equipment). Many topics have been seen on CD regarding manufacturing equipment such as ventilators, however one large aspect of facing this pandemic is contagion prevention.

My students on 5740 have partnered with local JOANN Fabric locations to supply masks for senior care facilities, hospitals, and emergency rooms. In order to bring this initiative to the general FIRST community, we have created a report showing you the exact steps needed to make masks which your team can donate to facilities and people in need.

We invite you to join us in making masks. They are inexpensive and easy to make. It also teaches relevant life-skills. See the form here or download the attached PDF which shows you step by step instructions on how to make masks.

Together we can keep our loved ones and healthcare workers safe. YOU can make a difference and save lives.

Please help us to spread our message by re-posting on social media and using #FIRSTfightsCOVID.

Mask Fabrication Guide.pdf (15.3 MB)

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It’s great that your students are putting muscle behind getting cloth masks out and in use! Getting masks made is a critical part of COVID solutions, and speaking locally - the Bay Area alone could use thousands, so I’m sure every mask you make & inspire will find use.

Teams reading this, Please CALL your local Joann’s and make sure they are participating and confirm how much material they’ll give you.
Locally: about half the Joanne’s stores in the SF Bay Area are out of supplies. The remainder will give you a kit for 5 masks.
Buying from locally owned and operated fabric shops with online or phone options still available has worked better for many of our sewers.

This is also not the only effective mask design - I’ve seen a lot of traction & demand for designs that use only cotton cloth and thread (simplify your supply chain!), with ties (12" on top 10" on bottom off the four corners) instead of elastic. Many Bay Area facilities are requesting multiple designs to fit multiple face shapes, and there’s enough diversity in what facilities will accept that you can go to https://maskmakervolunteers.com/ and start sewing any of the patterns, and they will find you an org accepting that pattern.

I saw 3D printed masks listed as a "way to help", but...

OP, I would remove the recommendation and republish
Before you start 3D printing masks, please look into bringing up volume in cloth masks, and using 3D printing for faceshield holders instead. It’s just way more efficient.
If you are still dead set on 3D printing masks, please make sure you are using a design your local providers will accept before you start printing.
FDM 3D printing is fundamentally porous. Consider printing a mold and pouring silicone, rather than giving the 3D printed output directly to the care providers.

My personal recommendation to most FIRST Robotics Teams remains focus on education first.

  1. Wash your hands
  2. Cover your mouth
  3. Create physical distance 6+’ to anyone you don’t live with - yes, including your teenage friends, no none of you are immune, yes you can transmit it to your grandparents without showing symptoms yourself.

Memes about not seeing friends in order to help slow the spread = valuable education content.


Many JOANN Fabrics often restock supplies needed for the masks daily. In our case the masks are for one per customer so our team will be doing about 200 masks. If you cannot get free kits, you can likely find supplies for masks very very inexpensively.

Stay safe out there y’all.

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Update on some of the progress being made.

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