A 12-year-old Summerhill boy is using his combined Christmas and birthday present to help workers caring for the vulnerable in coronavirus-hit North-West Tasmania.
The 3D printer Leo Bailey was given has been used to manufacture essential components which form part of protective face shield masks.
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"There was a post that Community Care Tasmania put up on Facebook [asking for help to source personal protective equipment] and a heap of people tagged mum which is how I got started," Mr Bailey said.
"It's important for the frontline workers so that they don't get the disease and can keep working and help people that have it."
Mr Bailey, a Year 7 student at St Patrick's College in Launceston, said it took him about two hours to make components for each mask.
He's made 20 so far, at an estimated cost of about $1 or $2 a mask.
"The bit that I'm printing is the little band that goes around the head and the bottom support," Mr Bailey said.
"Community Care Tasmania are putting the clear [visor] bit in."
Mr Bailey said the printer was originally in his bedroom but had to be moved to his parent's garage.
"I was really busy with the business I've got for it so I had to print it overnight and I can't sleep with it going so I had to put it in the garage so it wouldn't keep me up," he said.
"The printer uses like this spool of plastic, called filament. Each roll costs about $30 and that's a kilogram of plastic and it only weighs a little bit for each mask.
"The printer's got a little nozzle that heats up to 215 degrees that moves the filament around and draws the shape over and over again and stacks it up and then it makes a 3D object."
To learn how to operate the 3D printer, Mr Bailey said he watched YouTube videos and taught himself.
"I've always kind of had an interest in stuff like that and how things work," he said.
After the decision to help Community Care Tasmania was made, Mr Bailey said the organisation supplied him with a file which allowed him to print the correct components that needed to be used in the face shield masks.
"I got the filament donated by Eaglecrest Technologies and other people sponsored me to get the filament to make them as well," he said.
"More filament is coming to make more."
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Community Care Tasmania's marketing and promotions coordinator Mel Driver said the face shield masks would be used by the organisation to protect its support workers who cared for about 2000 elderly and disabled community members across the state.
"We'll be making them available to our support workers, probably at this stage most likely all the ones in the North-West area because of the outbreak up there," Ms Driver said.
"Then we'll also make them available to health workers and medical staff."
Ms Driver praised Mr Bailey and other community members for their "overwhelming" generosity.
Olivia Bailey said she was proud of her son's efforts.
"Leo researched the machine for a year and begged us for a year for it," Mrs Bailey said.
"It's easy for him to do the printing but I wouldn't have a clue what to do."
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