SCU Maker Lab Joins Local Effort to Produce Medical Face Shields
Just days into Santa Clara County’s shelter in place order in March, reporters around the country were sounding the clarion call that healthcare workers in New York and other coronavirus hotspots were facing dire shortages of personal protection equipment.
With eleven 3D printers standing at the ready in the School of Engineering’s Maker Lab, faculty member and lab director Christopher Kitts knew Santa Clara University was in a position to help. Within days, a partnership was launched, a safety protocol was developed and approved, special university access permissions and authorizations were granted, and a small team of engineering graduate students, faculty, and staff began printing parts for medical use face shields. With Maker Lab Manager Anne Hunter managing the day-to-day production activities, the team delivered parts for 144 face shields at the end of their first week of activity. The team now plans to continue to produce parts for 500-1,000 face shields per week through the spring quarter.
As just one contributor in this supply chain, SCU is assisting Maker Nexus, a local nonprofit maker space leading the effort. Santa Clara’s team is providing the 3D printed bottom reinforcement part and Maker Nexus is providing the headband, clear shield, and elastic. More than 400 local makers are also working to fulfill orders of over 25,000 shields requested by local hospitals and other medical professionals. Once the parts are assembled and sanitized, Maker Nexus’s partner, Valley Medical Center Foundation, distributes the shields to those in need.
“This is the first project in a new initiative by the Maker and Robotic Systems Laboratories to respond rapidly to acute humanitarian crises associated with natural and man-made disasters, pandemics, refugee migrations, and the aftermath of regional conflicts. With Santa Clara University’s Jesuit, Catholic tradition of service, making protective gear for healthcare workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus fight was a natural fit for us,” Kitts said.