ANNA — Bob Romanowski, of Anna, has turned a hobby into a way to help people fight COVID-19.
Romanowski is printing 3-D mask bands which allow a person to wear a mask without the elastic loops being placed over their ears. This takes the pressure off the ears of a person who might have to wear the mask for hours on end each day.
“I was just talking to people,” said Romanowski on how he started making the bands.
He did some research on the Internet to see what people needed during the pandemic. One of the items was a band to be worn at the back of the head that holds the mask in place.
“I’ve made 600 to 700 bands so far,” he said. “I’ve given Wilson Health 250 an given them to the managers at the CVS Pharmacy, Walmart and Menard. I talk a box of them with me when shopping and give them some bands for their employees.”
The 3-D machines, said Romanowski, can make four bands at one time. The 10-layer bands take 1 1/2 hours to make.
“The plastic for the bands starts with a cord of plastic,” he said. The cord is fed through the printers and the machine — which has the directions programmed into it — then creates the bands. The plastic melts into layers and each band is 10 layers thick.”
He has three printers which he uses to make the bands. They have been running at 100% capacity for the past six weeks. He recently won a new printer which will allow him to print his projects in more than one color.
The 81-year-old Anna resident says he likes retirement, but needs to keep busy. In addition to designing projects on his 3-D printers, he has worked for a temporary employment agency since 2007.
“The temporary agency doesn’t care about your age,” he said. He’s held 17 different jobs through the agency, including his last one at Honda of America, where he’s worked for 2 1/2 years.
Romanowski said when making the masks he’ll get the printers started, make sure they’re working OK and then go watch a movie on television. Or he grabs a book and enjoys an evening or reading.
“Then I’ll come back and take them out,” he said. “I’ve had to play with the temperature (of the printers) to make sure they’re working alright.”
Romanowski is also making face shields on his printers.
“If someone needs shields or bands, I can donate them if they want,” said Romanowski.
Anyone interested in the shields or bands can contact Romanowski at 937-622-0017 or via email at Bob@Romanowski.cc.
“I’ve given the bands to a lot of businesses and they always thank me,” said Romanowski. “The manager at Kroger took my name and phone number in case they needed more.
“I’ll keep printing them out until I’ve run out of people who needs them,” he said.
Romanowski is also a title designer with SolidWorks, where he designs parts to work on CNC machines. He also designed a part for Honda’s electric car.
“As an old timer, we’ve had stuff happen like this before and we lived through it. Society will be changed when this is all over,” said Romanowski.