HAMPTON, Va. - The goal of the veteran-owned business is to identify areas of need, rise to the challenge and come up with a solution.
That's what defense contracting company Threat Tec, based in Hampton with a satellite office in Illinois, has been doing for years.
So, when the company noticed the continuous call for masks for health care workers on the front lines, they knew they couldn't sit still.
"We were able to put our shoulder to the wheel and see how we could help, and it became pretty clear the N95 mask shortage was an issue," said Jim Crawford, Threat Tec CEO.
Crawford, alongside Chief Technology Officer Andrew Tietz, started putting their minds to work. They already had 3D printers on hand to make simulations and mockups for the military, and they knew they could put them to good use.
"We have a fantastic capability here at Threat Tec called 'Threat Werks,' where we have rapid prototyping and manufacturing capabilities," said Crawford.
Crawford reached out to researchers at MIT and N.C. State to troubleshoot PPE prototypes that would provide medical professionals and those on the front lines of the COVID-19 outbreak with options when N95 masks are hard to come by.
Threat Tec was able to secure 3D printers in both their Hampton and Mahomet locations through purchases and loans from the Mahomet-Seymour School District.
The mask that takes about three hours to make is designed to be used daily and cleaned.
"It's hard, it fits right into place, it has a flexible edge and has a seal that is airtight," said Tietz.
"The filter can be changed as needed, and you can make a filter from the N95 mask and literally cut three to four filters from one mask," said Crawford.
The masks are still going through testing. Crawford says the masks will still protect workers who have been reusing their masks or don't have one.
Threat Tec won't be selling the masks; they'll be donating them, and they are looking for people around the world who have 3D printers that can help with production.
They have created a GoFundMe page for donations for supplies.