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Locals make face shields for health workers

Schools with 3D printers get involved

Tom Broderick of Northwood School in Lake Placid models a face shield made with 3D printers at the private high school’s Innovation Hub. (Provided photo — Northwood School)

LAKE PLACID — People here and around the North Country are using 3D printers to make face shields for health care workers.

Institutions involved so far include Northwood School, the Lake Placid and Saranac Lake central school districts, SUNY Canton, and Mountain Orthotic and Prosthetics Services of Lake Placid. The volunteers were able to connect in a short period of time to get the project up and running quickly. With more continuously signing up through their website, ny3dnetwork.com, the numbers keep growing. As of Wednesday morning they had 20 people with 3D printers signed up to help.

“A lot of the people we are trying to get to quickly are the school districts and libraries, as well as some private businesses that have the capacity and that have multiple printers,” said Andrea Audi, a Saranac Laker who is working on expanding their network.

They also need funding, she added. Anyone willing and able to donate can connect through ny3dnetwork.com.

They currently have 13 3D printers in their network and expect those numbers to go up. It takes one printer around 3.5 hours to print the pieces for just one face shield, and 15 hours to print for four at once.

There are multiple parts: the visor, the shield that has to be laser cut and then attached to the visor, and then a simple rubber band or hair tie to hold the shield on the head.

“This is a durable, cleanable, washable, disinfectable product,” said Thomas Boderick, associate head at Northwood School — a private high school in Lake Placid — and primary lead at its Innovation Hub on Main Street downtown.

“The material we are using is called PETG,” Boderick said. He further explained that PETG is the same material that a soda bottle is made out of.

“We’re actually really trying to make a product that is FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) approved or approved by the National Institutes of Health so that when they (the health care workers) get it, they know they’ll be safe,” he said.

These face shields will still need to be worn with face masks, but allow for the protection of not only the mouth and nose, but the eyes as well.

“We can print face shields faster. We can use less material. They can serve a different purpose than masks and be more easily sterilized, and the quality control for the product is easier,” Audi said. “It’s what we’ve been asked to print.”

The volunteers have gone through multiple different prototypes and have even tried printing face masks. However, both their team and the health care providers they have been in contact with decided face shields were the better choice.

“It’s a pretty simple device, once made,” Boderick said. “It’s three pieces, but think about what it could do. It can protect a health care worker from being infected.”

They are currently hoping to produce 600 face shields within the next two weeks.

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