Populuxe’s Keith Lovik designed two open-source 3D-printable masks to serve community and healthcare workers.
Keith Lovik was hearing the same stories over and over from his friends and relatives in the health-care industry: they didn’t have enough masks.
“They were using bandanas or their shirts for protection,” said Lovik, who has been a beertender at Populuxe Brewing for the past five years. “I knew I had to do something.”
In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lovik decided he couldn’t just quarantine at home and listen to more stories. He got to work.
Lovik recruited friends, like Greg Krsak at Scrappy Punk Brewing and put his manufacturing and design skills to work in creating The Unity Mask, an open source, 3D-printable face mask with a filtered respirator. Now anyone with a 3D printer can download the specs, print the mask and filter and wear it or donate the mask to first responders or health-care workers.
“It seemed like the world was falling apart, so I thought why not move forward and do something I’m good at,” said Lovik.
Lovik got into 3D printing about eight years ago through his life as a ventriloquist puppet maker. Helping design a puppet for renowned Las Vegas ventriloquist Terry Fator, Lovik used a 3D printer to make a robot puppet lighter than the traditional wood composition. It was an experience that Lovik enjoyed and something he continued to do.
It was also a skill that has allowed him to give back to his community in its time of need.
There are two versions of The Unity Mask. The Unity Mask HOME, which launched in late April, is designed to be used “if you’re not likely going to be performing CPR, exercising, or otherwise exerting yourself strenuously.” And soon-to-be-released, The Unity Mask PRO is an enhanced version made specifically for workers on the front line. The PRO mask is currently going through government certification.
“Keith wanted to get the masks out there and in front of the people who could make and use them,” said Greg Krsak, Scrappy Punk Brewing owner. “He was just like, ‘Greg, can you get this online as quickly as possible.”
Krsak, who has a background in software development, created a brand and website for the masks, which are available on GitHub, an open-source platform for developers to share their projects with the world. Now anyone who has the equipment and the need can have a high-quality mask.
To create the mask, Lovik recruited his long-time friend Matt Cowgill, a design specialist. The two began designing specs for the mask and then going through iterations. Lovik would print the prototype off on his 3D printer and then leave it on Cowgill’s front porch so he could go over it in detail, testing it for weaknesses.
“I’d leave it on his doorstep and then we’d talk and go over the issues,” said Lovik. “Then I’d print out another version and we’d do it again.”
Lovik and Cowgill were aiming for a mask that was simple, could include a filtered respirator and created a seal to the face. Rapid prototyping of the kind Lovik and Cowgill were undertaking usually takes at least a month, said Lovik. They got the final design for The Unity Mask nailed down in a week.
“There were some days I didn’t get much sleep,” said Lovik.
Lovik knew he also needed some help promoting their new product. That’s where the connections he made in the craft beer world paid dividends. Lovik reached out to Krsak, whom he had met as a customer while working behind the bar at Populuxe. It’s no secret that Krsak used the Ballard brewery as a template for his own garage-style brewery in Snohomish, Scrappy Punk.
“Greg was one of those customers that when they walk in you’re just really glad to see them,” Lovik said.
Krsak volunteered on behind the scenes technical development and helped launch the masks into the world, making sure they got into the hands of the people who could make them. Krsak said that once Lovik reached out, he knew he wanted to help.
“Keith is one of the coolest beertenders in the Seattle beer scene,” said Krsak.
Along with Krsak and Cowgill, the rest of The Unity Mask team is made up of Matt Kraske on design, Marc Chavez with technical writing, and Bret Spangler with testing.
More information on The Unity Mask can be found at theunitymask.com.
| Photos courtesy of The Unity Mask project.