An array of 3-D printers whirred and chattered through the night and into Tuesday at Ashland Community and Technical College, turning spools of plastic filament into much-needed medical supplies.
The printers are making face shields and respirator masks which the college plans to donate to King's Daughters Medical Center, according to ACTC project coordinator for new and emerging business and industry Chris Boggs.
The hospital can use the masks and filters in the event of an anticipated shortfall in regular supply lines because of high demand during the coronavirus pandemic.
Boggs and Tyler Stephens, coordinator of ACTC's computer-aided design program, started working on the project after talking to KDMC supply chain director Katie Arnett late Sunday, Boggs said.
Monday morning he and Stephens got started in ACTC's printer lab at its EastPark campus. The printers, about 20 of them, are making plastic visors that fit on the head. The visors have clips to which are attached clear plastic face shields. Medical workers use them to protect their faces during medical procedures.
The basic design comes from a Syracuse, New York based two-person company called Budmen Industries. The company, which makes custom 3-D printers and 3-D printed products, has made design files for the shields public and uploaded them to its website, Budmen.com., along with guidance for volunteers who want to make the products for their local medical community.
The visor component is made on the 3-D printer. The clear face shield components are made from plastic sheets originally made for overhead-projector transparencies.
Digital projectors have made the transparencies obsolete, and Boggs found several hundred in storage. “I used a laser cutter to make holes in them to fit and it was a perfect fit,” he said.
They also bought about $40 worth of foam strips to line the visors and elastic to hold them on the head.
Boggs figures they have enough material at the start to make about 100 of the shields.
The second item is a respirator mask that will hold a disposable filter. On Tuesday they were still fiddling with prototype designs but hope to be ready to make the masks in quantity soon.
When the items are ready, King's Daughters medical staff will assess them to make sure they can do the job, hospital spokesman Tom Dearing said.
The hospital is adequately prepared for now with supplies, he said. However, it is asking patients to postpone elective procedures and opt for online or telephone consultations to further conserve medical supplies, he said.
ACTC has made some other donations to KDMC, according to college spokeswoman Michelle Goodman, including isolation gowns, masks, shoe coverings, safety glasses and gloves.The donated items come from the ACTC workforce solutions nurse aide program, the licensed practical nurse program and the associate degree nursing program.
.”Our middle name is community,” Boggs said. “we've all got friends and family her in the community. Would you do something to help your family? Absolutely. And we will help for as long as we can.”