By Senior Airman Ashley Perdue
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are stepping up in their local communities to help slow the spread of the disease in any way they can. One of these individuals is Air Force Staff Sgt. Andrew Piggott, a 50th Air Refueling Squadron boom operator stationed at MacDill Air Force Base near Tampa, Florida, who also happens to own a 3D printer.
“I have been 3D printing for about a year now,” Piggott said. “There have been a few occasions around the house that have required me to improvise using my printer and recently, I noticed some peers who also 3D print, making masks, bands, and personal protective equipment (PPE) devices.”
Piggott decided to use his resources to help his fellow teammates and their families stay protected during this pandemic.
“A coworker of mine, Master Sgt. Mike Fulton, asked me to print a mask for him and a family member,” Piggott said. “After doing a bit of research, I found an engineering program at a university that came up with what looked like a feasible design. I then decided it was time to get started.”
According to Piggott, each mask takes anywhere between three to six hours to make, depending on the size. He has already made 20 masks.
“Staff Sgt. Piggott loves his 3D printer,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Michael Fulton, operations superintendent for the 50th Air Refueling Squadron. “My daughter stated that she would love to have a custom mask and I mentioned the thought to Andy. Right away, he was in his garage and started to send me pictures of the design. I mean, it was within 20 minutes he started working on it.”
This pandemic has presented a unique opportunity for individuals to take a hobby or passion and use it to help care for others.
“The type of 3D printing that I’m using for this project is called fused filament fabrication,” Piggott said. “Basically, the machine heats up and melts a plastic filament and, in a sense, uses it like ink in a normal printer. Hundreds, sometimes thousands of small layers are printed on top of one another to create the shape of the object that I want to print, often taking multiple hours.”
Currently, Piggott is working with his leadership to develop a plan to provide masks for his teammates and their families, while prioritizing members who are still flying and supporting operational missions.
“Staff Sgt. Piggott has been in contact with squadron members and been able to execute a plan to get usable masks to his fellow Airmen,” Fulton said. “Andy is going to the next level by modeling different sizes and producing them on his dime and with donation of supplies. He gets to practice and deliver on a skill that only he has with 50th ARS.”
According to Fulton, making masks for his team is not out of character for Piggott.
“Hands down, receiving my mask from him was awesome,” Fulton said. “That caring attitude goes a long way during this COVID-19 pandemic and gives the squadron a deeper connection of caring for one another. This selfless service that he has provided to my family and to the squadron during this time is wonderful, and I truly thankful to be a part of a team that has Staff Sgt. Andy Piggott on it.”
It comes as no surprise that the local community can, and will, band together and take this pandemic head-on to ensure everyone’s health and safety.
“For me, this was a way to give back to my squadron,” Piggott said. “Our squadron motto is ‘Dans Illis Infernum,’ which translates to ‘giving ‘em hell.’ We are all bigger than this virus! Get creative, think outside the box, work together and let’s give ‘em hell!”
-This story originally appeared on dvidshub.net. It has been edited for USO.org.
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