Just because Lakeland's campus and HIVE makerspace are currently closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, doesn't mean that the college's 3D printers are sitting idle in an empty building.
When the official word came that the campus would be closed for the remainder of the spring semester, Owen Schoeniger, maker lead at Lakeland's HIVE makerspace facility, carefully transported some of the college's 3D printers to his home to keep an important project on track.
With pandemic precautions well underway by mid-March, he had already started to produce face shields to be donated on behalf of the college to provide to a local medical supply company.
The face shields were destined for Community Surgical Supply, a local company concerned about their at-home care workers who were conducting client visits without personal protective equipment (PPE). Respiratory therapists were going into patients' homes to set up and adjust ventilators for patients who need them for nonCoronavirus-related ailments. But because they don't work in a hospital, they have very little access to PPEs.
"With the college's support, we've been able to jump in and help them any way we can," said Schoeniger.
Currently, he is producing enough parts to make 50 face shields per week using 3D printed components, elastic bands and acetate sheets and is working directly with a local manufacturer, Aero Controlex Group, that is handling assembly, packaging and distribution of the face shields.
To date, 159 face shields, out of a tentative goal of 200, have been shipped to respiratory therapists as far off as New Jersey.