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3D Printers Put To Work Creating Protective Medical Equipment In Utah

LOGAN, Utah – People all over Utah have been pitching in to protect nurses and medical staff as they treat patients with COVID-19. Virtually, anyone with a 3D printer who is willing can help add to the protective equipment, desperately in high demand.

Utah’s Coronavirus Task Force has been asking for 3 million face shields. Officials said they have  11 orders in account for 1 million shields, which means they’re still looking for 2 million more.

In a time of crisis, you can sit on your hands  or you can act. Dr. Jeff Clements was just one example of those who choose the latter.

“My days are a lot longer, even though everyone’s in quarantine,” he said.

Teaching classes online might seem easier, but consider juggling six 3D printers, while assembling face shields.

He has been doing this with the help of two student volunteers.

“Our limitation is man-hours,” said Jeff Clements. “We’re all social distancing, and so there’s not a huge staff that can be in here, helping out all the time.”

Clements said they’re putting out close to 30 shields a day, and a couple-dozen face masks.

A team at Hill Air Force Base has made similar progress. Once they’re up to full speed, the 388th Fighter Wing hopes to make dozens each week.

It’s an effort that happens little by little, stretching across the state.

“This is a huge team of us that’s working together,” said Dan O’Crowley, from Utah State University’s assistive technology lab.

O’Crowley has been coordinating the efforts of several people, running printers and laser-cutters.

“This is actually something where you can do something,” he said. “You can actually be proactively engaged in trying to, in a sense, be a part of the solution.”

It’s not only about what one person can do, but what all of us can accomplish if we work together.

“I love that even though we’re apart, there’s ways that we can connect with each other,” said Clements.

Both Utah State and Weber State University have been looking for materials and people who have 3D printers who want to pitch in.

USU planned to distribute their face masks and shields to the Bear River Health Department. WSU planned to give theirs to the Weber-Morgan Health Department.

Health officials then planned to distribute the equipment to where it was needed most.

Design files can be found at thingiverse.com.

Finished shields can be dropped off at the fabrication lab of the Utah Assistive Technology Program in Logan. (Click here for a link to the map.) The bin is on the west side of the building. The final step of sanitizing the face shields will be taken by the health care providers.

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