WSU’s School of Business Spearheads 3D Printing of Face Shields for Local Healthcare Providers
April 8, 2020
OGDEN, Utah – The 3D lab in the John B. Goddard School of Business & Economics at Weber State University is generally buzzing with student projects this time of year. COVID-19 brought that to a sudden halt until lab director Jeff Clements, an assistant professor in management information systems, saw a need and jumped right in.
With the help of two student volunteers, Clements put all six 3D printers to work, and within days, created 85 face shields.
“It’s great to be able to pivot quickly and support our local community when we can’t use our facilities for traditional teaching,” Clements said. “I’m proud to be part of Weber State, where everyone from students to deans all the way up to the president, are supporting this effort.”
The 85 shields were donated to the Weber-Morgan Health Department, April 7, which coordinates personal protective gear and distributes it throughout the county.
Holin Wilbanks, Weber County Economic Development director said it’s impressive how quickly Weber State’s business school responded.
“The Weber County Commission is deeply grateful for Weber State’s dedication to small businesses and public health,” she said. “It’s an indication of how closely aligned Weber State faculty and students are with the needs of the community.”
Clements began using the lab’s 3D capabilities to print masks for the university’s police force and for two skilled-nursing facilities in Texas and Louisiana.
When he switched to the more difficult face shields, several labs across campus, including those in education, arts and physics supported the effort with supplies, extra printers and volunteers.
Each mask takes about four hours to print and requires a detailed assembly of multiple parts. To allow for social distancing, student volunteers Jacob Bush and Alex Dodge have rotated schedules with Clements and Ryan Cain, technology instructor in the College of Education. They keep the printers running day and night. With the current process, the university is collectively producing about 28 shields per day. Because of their high-volume use, three machines have already required a complete overhaul of parts.
While WSU’s 3D labs are currently printing at capacity, supplies are dwindling. Filament, button-hole elastic and plastic sheets are nearly as impossible to source as the equipment being made. Clements is committed to continue production while supplies last.
Goddard School Dean Matt Mouritsen said he’s grateful and proud of the efforts of faculty and staff to spend their own time and energy to print 3D face shields in sterilized labs for the local community.
“We will do all we can to support this innovative work,” Mouritsen said. “We teach students about creative adaptation, piloting new initiatives and the importance of community involvement. I am proud to see our team live what we teach.”
According to the Weber-Morgan Health Department, PPE remains in high demand, and they are now looking for alternatives to goggles.
Clements says, “Challenge accepted.”
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Author & Contact:
Niki Tonks, Goddard School of Business & Economics marketing manager 801-626-8940 • firstname.lastname@example.org