(Photo courtesy of the Monterey County Free Libraries)

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The Monterey County library system’s two 3D printers are being used to produce protective N95 masks while all of the system’s branches are closed due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, the county said April 2.

The two printers are producing the hard plastic masks around the clock to support first responders and medical professionals who are dealing with the pandemic’s ongoing surge in cases. Each mask takes just over three hours to make and is designed to be worn multiple times by the same person.

“We know there is a need for these, so my team tested the masks to pick the best pattern and materials and worked out the bugs before starting the printing work,” county Library Director Hillary Theyer said. “These printers were located in Soledad and Greenfield branches and have been moved to the county surplus warehouse where the printing is taking place.”

Before being repurposed, the printers were generally used to produce supplies for the library system’s maker program. Library officials also plan to use them to make doorknob covers that will help prevent the spread of germs and no-sew masks that can hold medically safe air filters.