104th Fighter Wing member making mask extenders on own time and dime
By Master Sgt. Lindsey Sarah Watson-Kirwin, 104th Fighter Wing
/ Published April 19, 2020
BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mass. --
More than 50 members of the 104th Fighter Wing have been activated and are working within their career fields to assist with the COVID-19 response efforts within the Commonwealth. Although Staff Sgt. Whitney Greaney has not been activated, she decided to help her community with her personal 3D printer. Greaney is printing mask extenders on her 3D printer at home and donating them to those who need them most.
“I was talking to my neighbors, who are physicians assistants, about making masks last and what they need,” said Greaney. “We looked at files I could 3D print that could help and settled on the mask extender I am printing now.”
Greaney has been printing the mask extenders on her days off from the 104th Maintenance Squadron, where she works full-time as a non-destructive inspector.
“Basically, we look for defects such as cracks, corrosion or foreign objects and debris on aircraft, aircraft components, or support equipment using various inspection methods,” said Greaney. “We use different inspection methods such as fluorescent penetrant, magnetic parcel, eddy current, ultrasound, radiography and oil analysis.”
Greaney has been using her own 3D printers and materials to print the mask extenders. She took time to modify her process to be as efficient as possible.
“It initially took a half-hour per extender to print, but I was able to troubleshoot my old 3D printer and modify the file,” she said. “Now I’m printing about 14 extenders per two and half hours.”
Even after refining her process, production is not without its challenges and frustrations.
“Three dimensional printers are kind of finicky so you can end up with lost batches and the filament for printing can be hard to come by, but I have been fortunate to find it online,” said Greaney.
Although she initially created the face mask extenders for her neighbors, she has since expanded and begun donating to 104FW members, military dependents, and people in other states.
“I originally gave them to my neighbors who are physician’s assistants,” said Greaney. “I have since donated them to members on base, to people and facilities in Chicopee, Massachusetts, Jacksonville, Orlando, and to spouses and significant others of members who work in healthcare.”
Greaney’s one woman shop operation has already produced hundreds of mask extenders, and she hopes to at least double her production.
“I will probably hit about 500 mask extenders printed today,” she said. “It would be really cool to hit at least 1000.”
She will continue to contribute to the mission at the 104FW in NDI and to her community by printing mask extenders for as long as they are needed and she has supplies.
“My goal is to print as many as I can and help as many people as I can,” said Greaney.