Limbs with Love now makes masks for health care workers and homeless people

Meghana Reddy
Madhavi Akella, a team member of Limbs with Love which has been making face masks for health care workers and homeless individuals.
(Courtesy)

San Diego-based nonprofit Limbs With Love, which normally uses a 3D printer to make and distribute prosthetic limbs all over the world, has pivoted to making masks for health care workers and homeless people.

“We decided to try 3D printing those masks and distributing them to those in need, both health care workers and the homeless,” said Meghana Reddy, president and founder of Limbs with Love.

Reddy was first inspired to start Limbs With Love after visiting orphanages in India, where children with missing limbs often faced financial obstacles to obtain a prosthetic. Through her interest in STEM, she tapped into the potential of 3D printing to make prosthetic limbs more efficiently and inexpensively.

But since the COVID-19 pandemic started, with the demand for prosthetic limbs down due to other pressing concerns, the nonprofit decided to make masks after hearing about the shortage of protective personal equipment. Doctors, nurses and other health care workers across the country faced additional risks to their own health and safety as they treated patients with the novel coronavirus.

So far, Limbs with Love has made about 200 masks, which can be disinfected and reused. Group members have been distributing them to homeless shelters locally, and in Tijuana.

Reddy, a student in Stanford’s class of 2021 and a graduate of Francis Parker School, said she has had more time to spend on the mask-making initiative now that colleges are conducting all classes remotely for the upcoming semester.

“A lot of our members have had more time to devote to this as well,” she said.

Reddy also said the masks are made and designed according to the specifications of the National Institutes of Health.

“We take the mask design, depending on the size, we print different sizes because they have to have a close fit,” she added.

Each mask takes about seven to eight hours to print, using 3D printers that a couple of Limbs of Love members have at their homes. They then require about 30 minutes of assembly, including putting foam around the nose and mouth area and adding straps.

Reddy said that the group has been focusing more on providing masks to organizations that provide support for homeless individuals.

“I think for health care facilities, now they have more supplies so they don’t really need to use our masks, so right now we’re focusing on helping the homeless,” she said.

For more information, visit limbswithlove.com.


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