By now, everyone everywhere is accustomed to life with face masks, thanks to Coronavirus. (Covid-19) Essential workers and those who are brave enough to venture out in public don masks in a variety of colours and styles. First and foremost, I’m a 3D printer. Hence, fabric masks don’t cut it for me. So, I went searching Thingiverse, painful as it may be. Eventually, I found a COVID-19 Mask that connected my fanboy love for Star Wars with a desire to be different. And I quickly realized something; I can customize the cap that fits on the end! Consequently, I wondered. What COVID-19 Mask Cap would I design?
COVID-19 Mask Cap Brainstorming
I found a mask on Thingiverse that had a Darth Vader style. However, I’ve always been more like Han Solo, An independent that leans toward the light. *Note: This is not the place to get into character debates :)* That meant my next step was research. I googled “Star Wars masked characters” to jump-start my creativity. Above all others, Leia’s classic disguise as Boushh in Return of the Jedi jumped off the page at me!
This seemed like the perfect place to start. Many people don’t know, but Boushh was a male Bounty Hunter in star wars, whose outfit was confiscated by Leia. After deciding to move forward with this look, I searched through more pictures of Boushh. This was because I needed enough detail that I could build into my design of the COVID-19 Mask Cap.
Starting the Boushh Cap design
I began where I always start. When possible, start by building from work that is already done and available. While this is not a step-by-step tutorial on how I created the Mask Cap, I’ll share a few critical steps along the way. In this case, I downloaded the Vader Mask Cap STL file and imported it into Fusion 360. This is because it already had the outer dimensions I needed. That way, I knew that my design would fit perfectly with the existing mask base (the part that touches your face).
Next, I created a sketch in the software fusion 360 that matched the outline of the Vader cap. Then, I extruded the sketch with a taper. Next, I made an offset sketch and extruded it to create a uniform thickness. Finally, I saved that design as a template to work from for all future caps.
From there, I continued creating more sketches. Using the different tools I’m familiar with, and I methodically worked my way up to the final Mask Cap, you see below. Furthermore, I was careful to reference the source images I located on the internet. In my opinion, the result was a movie-accurate representation of Boushh’s mouthpiece I was happy with. Now, I was ready to print it.
Review of the Printing Process
I’m a massive fan of multi-colour prints. For this particular COVID-19 Mask Cap, I wanted the section that protruded out to be a different colour than the base. I own several different models of 3D printers. That ownership taught me that you can’t always approach the same challenges in the same ways. In this case, the challenge was relatively simple. I needed to change filament at a specific layer height. Cura has a post-processing option just for this. On my Anet A8, this works flawlessly. The option gives you the ability to select a specific layer or specific measured height, will move the print head away from the print, pause, and then resume once you choose that option.
Finding Another Way
On my Artillery Genius, that option doesn’t work – Mask Cap or any other print. That is because it is fitted with a touch screen display, which is controlled differently than LCDs with rotary buttons. Some quick research about gCode revealed the answer. I used Notepad++ to complete the editing after slicing the file. So, here are the lines of code I now drop in any gCode file, right where I want the change to happen:
- M117 Change filament; optional, only displays on LCDs with rotary buttons
- G0 X10; non-extrusion travel, moving filament away from print
- G0 Z30 F7800; non-extrusion travel, lifting the print head [Z position needs to be higher than current layer]
- M0; pause, waiting for the user to resume print
- G0 F300 Z1.360; non-extrusion travel, moving print head down [Z position needs to match previous layer height]
So far, this process helped me produce great multi-colour prints across all three of my FDM printers. For the Boushh Mask Cap, I selected All That Glitters Gold by Dragons Metallic (no longer in production) and Silk Silver by Hello3D PLAs. I will have to paint the centre section and adjoining pockets black. Upon reflection, I think I would add filament change so that the areas I need to paint using black PLA in the future. Ultimately, for my first attempt, the result pleased me. It fit perfectly on the mask base!
Inspiration kick-started; Next Mask Cap?
Since I successfully produced my first Mask Cap replacement, I ploughed forward to my next design. More brainstorming and reflection led me to a recently showcased and visually iconic character from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Edrio “Two Tubes” (or Benthic, his counterpart) have very prominent face masks. Indeed, I knew that I wanted to tackle their design as my next COVID-19 Mask Cap. I chose it for the reason that there were enough details to demonstrate new levels of modelling capability. I’m not recapping the points of the process, as they are very similar to how I approached the Boushh model. However, the Edrio Mask Cap went through several iterations and two prints to accomplish the look I wanted.
COVID-19 Mask Cap Summation
The COVID-19 pandemic permanently altered our lives. For one, social interaction is now distanced or virtual. For another, it seems like all key commodities are now scarce (you’re probably conjuring images of hoarders with toilet paper towers and home hand-sanitizer labs, right?). Therefore, it’s enough to cause us all to live in constant fear of what disaster or turmoil is next. But what if, rather than focusing on the fear, we can focus on the opportunity? I took the time I was given to begin creating. I started with something I have a passion for; Star Wars and finding ways to help others. These COVID-19 Mask Cap alternatives were my way of focusing on the opportunity. What’s yours?
- Please consider learning more about the Artillery Genius or one of my other printers, the Eryone Thinker S if you have the time!
- Find out more about Cartesian 3D printers
- If you are like me i like to find out more about the future of 3D printing this is a great article to find out just that.