Return to Headlines

Staff 3D Printing Face Shields

3D Printed Face Shields Instructional staff members from the Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES are doing their part to ensure that local healthcare workers have personal protective equipment (PPE) while fighting COVID-19.

Emerging Technologies & Cyber Security teacher Colin Douglass, CTE Science teacher Brian Frantz, P-TECH STEM integration specialist Tiffany Piatkowski and Advertising Design/Multimedia Production teacher Shawn Racioppa have all been practicing appropriate social distancing while taking turns visiting the OHM BOCES FAB Lab to print and assemble much-needed face shields.

Medical face shields, when used in combination with other PPE, help to protect healthcare workers from face, nose, mouth and eye contact with an infectious agent or bodily fluid that may contain an infectious agent, which is especially important when dealing with COVID-19.

“It's rewarding to be able to help our local essential medical personnel,” said Piatkowski. “Just knowing that we’re able to provide something that will help protect them while they’re on the front lines fighting this battle for all of us. We’re proud that even though our campus is closed we are still able to put the FAB Lab to good use helping our local community.”

Each face shield has two 3D printed pieces -- a large visor piece that the clear shield and strap attach to, and a small elastic holder piece that is used to adjust the tightness of the strap. Using design specifications from Budmen, a 3D printer manufacturer, the teachers are able to print the pieces needed to construct three face shields at a time on the FAB Lab’s Stratasys F370 3D printer.

During the school year, the industrial-grade printer is typically used by students in the Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) and Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs to create 3D printed parts and prototypes for class projects.

In order to repurpose the machine to produce face shields, the printer has been temporarily converted to print using polylactic acid (PLA) -- a type of 3D printing filament that is odorless, low-warp and eco-friendly. Douglass, Frantz, Piatkowski and Racioppa started out with an initial production run of 12 masks and anticipate being able to make a total of approximately 60 masks with the supplies they have been able to get from local stores. In addition to the 3D printed parts, mask production also requires foam tape, elastic, transparency sheets, super glue, isopropyl alcohol, disposable gloves and a single hole punch.

The teachers are currently able to print three sets of two pieces in just over three and a half hours, and are planning to ramp up production with some help from P-TECH business partner Trenton Technology Inc. The company has volunteered to assist the OHM BOCES teachers with the 3D printing process to help speed up production and get the essential PPE to local hospitals sooner.

Because of the current state and federal guidelines, students have not been able to participate in manufacturing the face shields. However, they will most certainly benefit from the unique insight and experience teachers are gaining throughout this process.

“It's important for us to lead by example for our students,” Piatkowski noted. “Utilizing the FAB Lab to produce these face shields and providing our local medical professionals with access to PPE are great lessons on giving back to our community for the young adults that we teach.”

The Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES serves the following school districts: Brookfield, Clinton, Holland Patent, New Hartford, New York Mills, Oriskany, Remsen, Sauquoit Valley, Utica, Waterville, Westmoreland and Whitesboro.

Visit our Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES Facebook page to view a photo gallery!