ATHENS, Wis. (WAOW) -- During the COVID-19 pandemic, students and staff members at Athens High School needed to get creative to keep band practices going.
One idea that is helping out: going from metal to plastic.
Thanks to a 3D printer, small pieces of plastic that look the same as any brass instrument mouthpiece are allowing the band to play on.
The plastic mouthpiece was created by a student.
"It's pretty cool that I can play with something that somebody else made and that it still sounds good," said Andrew Schare, a freshman at the high school.
The school's band teacher, Sam Puffer, came up with the idea after seeing it somewhere else.
And less than 24 hours after sharing it with one of his students, Puffer had a 3D generated mouthpiece in hand.
"I do think that there is a future in this," he said. "Just taken with some refinement and just careful calibration."
The mouthpieces are not just a safety measure against COVID-19, they also could save money. According to Puffer, it can cost less to create them on the 3D printer then it does to buy a replacement.
"This is a great, great step, and in all this stuff that we've missed out on this year, stuff like this keeps popping up because we've had to be creative," Puffer said.
School officials say they hope that with one student creating something resourceful, others will be inspired to do the same thing.
"Go ahead and try to do things that you're not normally doing," said Juli Gauerke-Peter, principal at Athens High School. "Put yourself out there, and utilize the technology and the skills that you're learning. Put those things into practice, because where there's a will there's a way."
Right now there have only been three pieces made using the 3D printer, but students and staff expect to make more.
"When we're innovative, we can create a lot of great things, and that is a great benefit to our school and our community," Gauerke-Peter said.