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| Wednesday, Apr 1, 2020
AJ Apone watches a mask as it finishes on a 3D printer at his home in Newhall on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. | Photo: Dan Watson / The Signal.
AJ Apone watches a mask as it finishes on a 3D printer at his home in Newhall on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. | Photo: Dan Watson / The Signal.

 

While some have taken to the traditional thread and needle to contribute to the Million Masks challenge, Santa Clarita resident A.J. Apone and his father, Allan, have decided to make 3D printer technology work for them.

Working out of his Newhall home and using two 3D printers, Apone has been able to quite literally create from scratch his own, hospital-grade masks that he is then turning around and donating to first responders.

“I want to help,” said Apone, who owns a special effects make-up company. “What sent me forward was when I figured out how to create a filter — the filter was really what made the difference.”

Apone said that when he figured out how to 3D print the HEPA-grade filter, or a hospital-grade filter, he figured he could make a couple with some donations helping him out. After a social media post, a few thousand dollars rolled into his fund, and he began to run his two 3D printers 24/7.

Apone said at $2 each, the masks currently take a few hours for his two printers to make, and, as of Tuesday, he can complete 11 a day.

AJ Apone, left and his father, Allan display their masks in their front yard in Newhall on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. | Photo: Dan Watson / The Signal.

AJ Apone, left and his father, Allan display their masks in their front yard in Newhall on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. | Photo: Dan Watson / The Signal.

“The printers are running literally all through the night,” said Apone. “It takes three-and-a-half hours to print one, so I wake up at 3 or 4 in the morning to reset the machine.”

But because of donations and people recognizing his project, The Mask Initiative, online, he hopes to get 12 machines running at the same time, creating 70-80 masks a day.

AJ Apone, left and his father, Allan work with their 3D as they print out the plastic portion of their masks at their home in Newhall on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. | Photo: Dan Watson / The Signal.

AJ Apone, left and his father, Allan work with their 3D as they print out the plastic portion of their masks at their home in Newhall on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. | Photo: Dan Watson / The Signal.

“I’ve been talking to people in New York and I’ve been talking to people in Pennsylvania,” said Apone. “(Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s) office told me that they would help me with materials and they would send me another 3D printer.”

Apone said his plan has been, and he continues to keep moving forward with it, to give the masks to first responders.

“I’ve gotten a lot of support from friends in the community, whether it be friends that have access to the machines … or do outreach to the hospitals and nurses like that,” said Apone. “It’s pretty remarkable how much it’s really gained traction in the last four or five days.”

Allan Apone, left and his son AJ place the plastic pieces of their masks into a U.V.C. sterilizer at their home in Newhall on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. | Photo: Dan Watson / The Signal.

Allan Apone, left and his son AJ place the plastic pieces of their masks into a U.V.C. sterilizer at their home in Newhall on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. | Photo: Dan Watson / The Signal.

On Tuesday, Apone drove a number of masks over from his home/workshop in Newhall to Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital.

He also said that first responders who are looking to receive the masks can reach out to him and he would be willing to meet up with them or leave the masks on the front porch so as to maintain social distancing.

“What I want to do is now that I’m starting to really get ready to start dropping them, I wanted to really get the word out there and kind of just get some sort of attention to make sure people know that we’re here, it’s available and we’re doing our best to accommodate everybody as best we can,” said Apone.

Allan Apone places the plastic pieces of their masks into a U.V.C. sterilizer at their home in Newhall on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. | Photo: Dan Watson / The Signal.

Allan Apone places the plastic pieces of their masks into a U.V.C. sterilizer at their home in Newhall on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. | Photo: Dan Watson / The Signal.

AJ Apone opens a 1500 health level Hepa filter that will be cut up for use in making his masks in Newhall. | Photo: Dan Watson / The Signal.

AJ Apone opens a 1500 health level Hepa filter that will be cut up for use in making his masks in Newhall. | Photo: Dan Watson / The Signal.

To contact Apone and inquire about either receiving a mask based on your need, or on how to help donate to his project, visit https://www.themaskinitiative.com/ or direct message him on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/themaskinitiative_/.

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SCV NewsBreak
LOCAL NEWS HEADLINES
Wednesday, Jun 3, 2020
City Council Declares Emergency, Sets 6 p.m. Curfew Thursday (Video)
In an emergency meeting at City Hall Wednesday afternoon, the Santa Clarita City Council unanimously adopted a resolution declaring a local emergency amid civil unrest in the Southern California region and set a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew for the city Thursday night.
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