What began as a response to a call from the medical community, begging for face masks to protect its workers, has evolved into a higher calling for Concordia University Wisconsin.
The Partnership Between Concordia University and Ritus is Helping Supply Masks for the Medical and Church Communities
Even today, a range of manufacturers, including small cottage industries, continue to pull together to generate an inventory of masks capable of serving medical professionals and the populous as the country reopens for business in a time of COVID-19. Among these, Concordia University in Mequon, Wisconsin, has stepped up, utilizing its sizeable 3D printing facility—the largest capacity of any nonprofit in the state of Wisconsin—to custom generate what they describe as N95-esque facemasks.
Concordia created a unique design using its new Makerspace Lab and 82 machines to print the hard-plastic shells employed as the mask’s outer layer. The university teamed up with a regional partner, Ritus Corporation, to manufacture the soft, silicone inner liner. Between Concordia’s ability to rapidly print and Ritus Corporation’s silicone molding capabilities, the project estimates it could deliver 500 masks a week as needed to fulfill demand.
What makes this mask different is it comes in two parts with a hard outer shell and pliable silicone gasket, ensuring the covering works for every individual. Trademarked as The Concordia University Community Mask™, Mike Litman, Chair of Computer Science, Concordia University, says, “We’re kind of nicknaming the masks… because it’s really taken a community of people to put this together.”
As more areas and businesses within the state reopen or increase capacity, there will be an additional demand. With its ongoing drive to serve its hometown community, Concordia plans to expand distribution to area churches. Many consider worship and religious gatherings essential, and Wisconsin churches plan to welcome back parishioners by offering masks, hand-sanitizer, and spaced seating protocols.
Thanks to the generous support of donors, business partners, and grants, Concordia is able to offer The Concordia University Community Mask for free, while funds last. To request PPE, visit www.cuw.edu/makerspace.
Concordia University Wisconsin is a Lutheran higher education community committed to helping students develop in mind, body, and spirit for service to Christ in the Church and the world. For 137 years, Concordia has educated students for lives of Christian leadership and service, uniquely developing people to step out into the world ready to make an uncommon impact.
Ritus Corporation, based in Milwaukee, is the industrial and automotive rubber manufacturing division of VRC Engineered Solutions. VRC is a leader in polymer technology, focusing on excellence through the never-ending pursuit of perfection.