Professor Printing PPE for Professionals
With the threat of a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) looming over medical personnel in West Texas, Wayland Baptist University faculty are trying to find ways to lend a helping hand. With that in mind, the School of Mathematics and Sciences is putting it’s 3D print lab to work.
Dr. Scott Franklin, professor of mathematics and computer science, wanted to find a way to get involved and through his personal interests in following other mathematicians on social media, he came across the idea to print face shields on a 3D printer.
“I just stumbled across some people who were actively involved in doing 3D printing,” Franklin said. “Once I joined a couple of different facebook groups that are doing 3D printing for PPE, I realized that there are a lot of different options and nobody has really settled on one. They are just getting ready for the shortage that we know is coming.”
After reading a few articles on the topic, Franklin started actively searching ideas on how to use Wayland’s 3D print lab to assist in PPE production. Through his research, he found a number of PPE devices that caught his interest. Along with the faceshield, he found plans for molded face masks that leave an opening for a filter. He also saw plans to print devices that in essence are used as splitters for respirators. The splitter enables one respirator to service multiple patients.
The face shield design Franklin is using comes from UCLA. He felt this particular model would work best for the equipment Wayland has available. Franklin made a few modifications to the original plan to make it more adaptable to Wayland’s equipment. He has also emblazoned a Wayland logo on the shield. Franklin is printing the upper portion of the mask to which the see-through, plastic guard is attached. He is using old transparency film that the university has in storage as the guard.
“We don’t use transparency machines anymore so this stuff is just sitting around,” he said.
Franklin said he prints out the upper, molded portion of the shield, then takes a transparency sheet, reinforces one side with duct tape and punches holes through the taped area where the film affixes to the shield. The process takes about five hours to complete.
With the design in place, Franklin said the next step is to find production partners. He will begin reaching out to doctor’s offices to see if they are in need of face shields. If there is an increasing demand for the product, Franklin said he will need donations of materials such as elastic bands that can be used to hold the shield in place around the head. He will also take any transparency or report cover materials that can serve as a guard.
If you know of a need for face shields or would like to donate materials or funds to assist in production, contact Dr. Franklin at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also encourages other businesses or individuals in the 3D printing community to get involved. You can find out more at www.getusppe.org/makers.