When Shipley STEAM teachers Paul Hermans (Upper School STEAM Teacher and STEAM Department Chair) and Sean Legnini '07 (Middle School STEAM Teacher) learned of the shortage in Personal Protective Equipment in local hospitals, they jumped at the chance to use their expertise to live Shipley's mission of Compassionate Participation in the World.
Tell us about your project.
SL: Paul and I have been 3D printing headbands with clear plastic facemasks for doctors to use in hospitals where Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) supplies are low. The face shields help to keep fluids off the face and, most importantly, help protect the precious N95 masks so that they can be re-worn. The design is one of many that have been circulating the internet since the COVID-19 pandemic began. We chose it because it seems to be the quickest to print and the easiest to put together so we can make as many as possible.
Where will you be donating these items?
SL: The first batch will go to Paoli Hospital where I have a contact. They have a need for supplies right now and, because I know someone there, the hospital staff can give us feedback on how the face shields performed so we can make adjustments if needed. After that, we'll continue printing and donate the rest to other hospitals in the area where the need is greatest.
What inspired/motivated you to 3D print face shields and masks?
SL: It's tough to sit back and watch something happen. You always want to feel like you can do something to help especially in a time like this where it is so important for all of us to come together, metaphorically of course, and fight the virus as a community. When it became clear that PPE supplies were going to be a big issue, we knew we'd have an opportunity to do our part.
PH: A colleague forwarded a link to an article about a school in Merion Station using their 3D printers to help with the pandemic and the extreme shortage of PPE. While I had been quite busy preparing classes for online learning, and managing my own family’s needs, I felt like it was my responsibility to help where I could. This article prompted me to reach out to the school in the article and offer my help. As it turns out, the slowest part of creating PPE is the actual 3D printing part. Lucky for me, Shipley has two of those in the Makerspace! I arranged to retrieve them from the building and brought both home to begin producing headbands for the PPE that are being donated to local institutions including Lankenau Medical Center, Paoli Hospital, and the University of Pennsylvania.
My goal is to keep the printers running as much as possible, ideally 24x7 to help produce as many as we can. So far, I have delivered over 50 face shields and hope to produce about 20 each day going forward.
Are you close to anyone in the healthcare field, that this project would give you a personal connection to?
SL: My contact at Paoli Hospital is a labor and delivery nurse, so while she's not on the front line she will be able to distribute the face masks to the doctors and nurses that need them most. I have another friend working at Penn Presbyterian and her ward was recently turned into an ICU for COVID-19 patients, so I'm hopeful we'll be able to get some masks her way soon as well.
PH: While I am not close to anyone in any of the institutions that we are donating to, my entire extended family is in the medical profession: surgeons, nurses, pediatricians. My family has benefitted from the medical care in the region many times. So, my hope is that something I help to make will keep someone else’s family safe, and allow them to help more people than I could as an individual.
How has Shipley supported you during this process?
SL: Shipley has been supportive by allowing us to use the printers that we keep at school. I had no problem at all picking up the printers from the Makerspace, even though the School was closed, so that we could start producing.
PH: Shipley has been supportive in several ways, first the facilities group quickly responded to my request to retrieve the printers and managed to gather all my supplies on the first try. Next, when I mentioned it to others there was an outpouring of support for it which didn’t really help make things, but it did have a positive impact on some of my colleagues and therefore also lifted my spirits. When Mrs. Van Steenwyk (Head of Upper School) and Mr. Turner (Head of School) learned of my efforts, they did not hesitate to encourage and support me in this endeavor.
Do you have any tips/tricks/words of advice for others who may want to 3D print face shields?
SL: There are many different files out there. The National Institute of Health's 3D Print page has a lot of files for you to try. You can access them here: https://3dprint.nih.gov/
. I'd recommend getting in touch with a hospital somehow to get an idea of what kinds of things they need and would be able to take. Many will take whatever they can get right now.
PH: In terms of tips and advice, I would say that the number one thing is to avoid the trap of thinking it has to be perfect and that you have to start from scratch! Many companies and people have made designs available on the internet. Print one or two, test them to make sure you have it right, and then get the printers printing! Time is of the essence, they are desperate for anything that will help, so just get going. Feel free to email me
if you need help getting started.
PH: As an engineer, and a teacher, I like to both teach people and fix things, so why I didn’t think of doing this sooner I don’t know! Regardless, as soon as I started I noticed how it felt good to just be doing something to help. I hope that the students see this and realize that they too have agency in the world around them, regardless of how crazy it gets, and find inspiration to do something small to help where they can.Read Paul and Sean's interview with the Daily Local.