Good Neighbors

Professor Collaborates With Manufacturers To Make Face Shields

They probably never thought they'd be working together, but times like these call for creative collaboration

Byron Fisher is an artist. Chances are he never imagined he'd be crafting plastic face shields for doctors and nurses on the frontlines of a worldwide pandemic. But challenging times call for creative solutions!

Fisher teaches art and is the director of art, science and innovation at Allegheny College in Meadville, PA. He's collaborating with three Meadville area manufacturers to use 3D printers to make plastic face shields for medical staff at Meadville Medical Center.

A college art professor and a group of high-tech manufacturers teamed up to make face masks for their local hospital.Northwestern PA Chapter NTMA/Facebook

Fisher told the Meadville Tribune he got the idea from his neighbor, a fellow professor. "She said I ought to look into 3D printing protective shields." The shields consist of a plastic headband that can be adjusted to fit, attached to a removable clear mylar face shield.

Companies like C&J Industries have commercial grade 3D printers that can quickly crank out the headbands for the face shields.C&J Industries/Facebook

Laser cutting the face shields is a pretty quick process, but laser printing the headbands is another matter. "It takes me about 3 1/2 hours to make a headband, so I can make four or five a day," Rich said. That's when he reached out to the northwestern Pennsylvania chapter of the National Tooling and Machining Association, who put him in touch with Meadville manufacturing companies C&J Industries, Acutec Precision Aerospace and NuTec Tooling Systems. All have commercial grade 3D printers and can make the headbands much more quickly.

The folks at Acutec Precision Aerospace were ready to jump on board the project. Acutec Precision Aerospace/Facebook

The finished parts are taken to another Meadville firm, Pasco Tool & Plastics to be assembled, disinfected and packaged. The first batch of shields was delivered to the Medical Center on Friday. "It's wonderful," Karen Custard, the hospital's director of materials management told the Tribune. The hospital will be able to reuse the headbands in the shield after disinfecting them.

Professor Rich and the manufacturers are donating their time and materials. A bunch of other local manufacturers have now stepped up to join in the effort.

Here's a virtual hand clap to this generous and creative group! While they normally operate in completely different industries -- or are even competitors -- they came together to help their neighbors on the frontlines during this pandemic.

Looks like lots of people in Meadville love their frontline hospital workers! Meadville Medical Center/Facebook

How can you start something good?

You might not be in position to make equipment for hospital and nursing home workers in your area who are on the frontline of the coronavirus battle. But you can still make a difference.

Why not get together with friends, make signs of support, and stand in the parking lot like the Meadville Medical Center neighbors did? We know that the doctors and nurses inside will get a boost from your well-wishes.

Or how about ordering take out for the front line workers at your local medical facility? It's a good idea to check with them first to find out what they need and how much, but you'll also be supporting local restaurants who are struggling during this time.

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