Wisconsin Tech Labs Step Up to Provide PPE Frontline Workers

WISCONSIN (SPECTRUM NEWS) — Many individuals across the state have stepped up to provide protective equipment for those on the front lines. In northern Wisconsin, tech-ed teachers have utilized 3-D printing as a way to help out.

Peggy Christianson is a Family Nurse Practitioner in Townsend. When the Coronavirus hit, she realized there would be a mask shortage. She put out a call on Facebook to anyone who had a 3-D printer.”So many people just wanted to help and this is really giving them a way to pay it forward,” said Christianson.

The Hodag Fab Lab in Rhinelander has ten 3-D printers. With school shut down, Director Mike Wojtusik didn’t want his printers sitting idle.

“We got two options. We can sit back and do nothing and possibly regret it sometime down the road…two months, three months…and say gosh darn it, I wish we would have done something with what we have here, or we can start doing something,” said Wojtusik.

In Wabeno, Brian VanEperen has logged long hours on his school’s four printers.

“In northern Wisconsin, we all know each other, speak to each other pretty frequently. Everybody is willing to share their information, their tips, tricks and files.”

He’s happy to help his community.

“We get a lot of community support through funding and donations to help keep this lab going for our kids and community. A time like this it’s awesome that we can give back to those people that have given so much to us,” said VanEperen.

The ‘Montana’ mask, designed by a doctor and dentist, has been a common build. It’s meant for those who need protection but can’t get their hands on an N-95 mask. It is washable, reusable, and you can change out the filters.

“The Montana masks are going to police departments, fire departments, rescue squads in our area. I know that hospitals are accepting them as well,” said Christianson.”Another item being printed are clips for surgical masks. They keep the elastic band from irritating the skin around ears.


Tony Baker and Willy Krause have manned the two printers at Crandon High School. They’ve produced over three dozen masks and 400 clips. Baker has been happy to help but notes one thing that is missing while working in the school.

“It has a bit of an eerie feel to it. To me, classrooms should have kids. Being here without them is very hard, it’s just very hard,” said Baker.

Even with the schools closed, these Northwoods teachers will keep helping their communities.

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