When Steve Wynveen, a development engineering manager at Mercury Racing, heard that Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin had posted a pattern and instructions for home sewers to create cloth face masks to help in the fight against the coronavirus, he wanted to pitch in.
“One of the more time-consuming parts to sew in this plan is folding bias tape in half and stitching it together to form the strings that loop over your ear or behind your head,” Wynveensaid, according to the company. “Bias tape has a bit of springiness to it because of the 45-degree weave angle. The tool we are 3-D-printing is a funnel that folds the tape back onto itself so that when it exits the tool, it can be fed right into a sewing machine, or be ironed flat.”
Wynveen found a bias tape tool on thingiverse.com that could be 3-D-printed and enlisted fellow development engineering manager Chris Jenks and Mercury Racing technician David Dins to help out. All three employees are 3-D printer hobbyists.
“The 3-D printer community is finding many ways to help during the pandemic,” Jenks said. “Those in the 3-D printer hobby usually make small models or arts-and-crafts projects. … The bias tape tool was something we could make quickly and share locally.”
Jenks said the “printer brigade” has created about 600 bias tape tools and has delivered about 500 of them those sewing masks.
“I know it sounds cliché, but it really does feel good to help in the fight against this pandemic,”Wynveen said. “Sewists from all over Wisconsin are grateful to get one of these tools. Plus, it didn’t hurt that we got to tweak our printers and apply some technical knowledge to maximize our production rate. Fun stuff for an engineer that likes to go fast.”