Library 3-D printing face shields for hospitals

April 3, 2020

Baldwin Public Library Idea Lab in Birmingham is 3-D printing protective face shields to donate to local hospitals in order to assist with COVID-19 relief efforts.

Protective face shields are an important part of the protective equipment worn by medical professionals on the front line of the pandemic, and act as the first line of defense by preventing viral particles from reaching the face.

According to Rebekah Craft, assistant director of Baldwin Library, the head bracket of the protective face shield is 3-D printed, and the shield itself is made of a common acetate sheet. Eleven 3-D printers are able to produce the shields at a rate of one shield every three minutes.

After printing, the masks are sterilized in the Idea Labs' vacuum desiccator, and then bagged for delivery. The Idea Lab is printing a design called “Modified Verkstan VI,” a model available for download on Thingiverse.com by user TDMakes. According to Craft, the print file is a modification of an original design from 3DVerskstan, a Swedish additive manufacturing firm.

A regular user of the Idea Lab, Tommy Daguano, donated the first batch of acetate sheets, and delivered Baldwin’s first set of 100 masks to Beaumont Hospital on Friday, March 27. The Idea Lab has also printed shields for each member of the Birmingham Fire Department.

Upon hearing of the initial success of the project, the Friends of the Baldwin Public Library have donated $2,320 to purchase supplies to make 2,000 face shields and purchase an addition 3-D printer for the Idea Lab.

With the influx of donations and community support, Idea Lab supervisor and project coordinator Jeff Jimison said, “Thanks to the Friends donation, and funding from other sources as well, our group now has 11 3-D printers devoted to producing vital PPE. This puts us on track to deliver 500 face shields to local hospitals this week. This is what we can accomplish when we work together.”

Community members interested in supporting this project financially may make donations to the Friends of the Baldwin Public Library online at baldwinlib.org/friends.

The library is currently closed to the public until further notice.

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