MARIETTA, Ga. | Apr 7, 2020
KSU team produces medical face shields to meet critical need
In an effort to alleviate a severe shortage of personal protective equipment at Georgia hospitals combating COVID-19, Kennesaw State University staff members have produced 3D-printed face shields to be donated and distributed statewide.
Using just a 3D printer and laser cutter in the College of Architecture and Construction Management’s Digital Fabrication Lab with support from the College of the Arts, the team recently made an initial batch 145 face shields. The shields, typically used in medical settings along with surgical masks, help protect against body fluids that may cause infection. This week, the equipment is expected to arrive at Cartersville Medical Center, WellStar Cobb Hospital and the MetroAtlanta Ambulance Service. Through a material donation from local architectural firm YSM Design coordinated and a $10,000 donation from the American-Turkish Friendship Council, the team will continue manufacturing shields for hospitals in need.
“We take pride in being a community-oriented institution, and I am delighted that our staff have joined together to support local medical workers at such a critical time,” said Andrew Payne, dean of the College of Architecture and Construction Management. “They have volunteered countless hours to see this come into fruition and have generated excellent results all while maintaining their primary role of serving our students throughout the current remote learning model.”
The team – composed of Dave Peeples, manager of building operations for the Department of Architecture; Rachel Kidd-Chancey, wood shop supervisor; and digital fabrication lab techs Rachel Johnson and Sabrina Seaman – said they were inspired to create the shields after Johnson found an open source 3D file for the plastic headband used to hold the shield in place. A quick inventory of the shop found that there was enough material on hand to begin production, and they later started to identify potential recipients of the completed shields.
The Digital Fabrication Lab, located in the Architecture Building, is typically open 13 hours a day during the fall and spring semesters to support student projects. With the shift to remote learning, the team is able to continue assisting student projects via digital files submitted online. Production of the face shields takes place without disrupting student projects. While it mainly serves students in the College of Architecture and Construction Management, it also aids in projects originating in the College of the Arts and the Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology.
In all, it takes about three hours to 3D print a single headband with plastic filament, but Johnson said the team is able to stack the design in order to print out several at a time. The laser cutter has the ability to cut the shield portion, which has a consistency similar to a plastic bottle, in a matter of seconds.
“With the laser cutter, our shop has a distinct advantage in creating the face shields,” she said. “While other places are only able to print the headbands, we can create a fully-fledged shield that can be packaged and ready to ship from campus.”
– Travis Highfield
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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 43,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.