Yokota airmen improve gas mask with 3D printer, potentially saving Air Force $8 million or more
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Tokyo-based airmen used a 3D printer and American ingenuity to modify a standard-issue gas mask into an aircraft oxygen system, potentially saving millions of dollars and improving aircrew safety.
The idea of hooking up the M-50 joint-service, general-purpose mask to an aircraft was hatched during brainstorming sessions by airmen from Yokota’s 374th Maintenance Squadron and 374th Operations Support Squadron.
“We took the mask and added some off-the-shelf parts and some 3D-printed parts and converted it into a piece of equipment that can work in an aircraft,” said Senior Master Sgt. David Siemiet, an aircrew flight equipment superintendent.
Gear used now — the Aircrew Eye/Respiratory Protection System, or AERPS — is expensive, heavy and fault prone with long waits for replacement parts, said C-130 Hercules pilot Capt. Matthew Kohl.
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