Saint Francis University community launches production of 3-D printed face shields



SFU Academic Departments Pull Together to Help Medical Staffs Stay Safe with 3d Printed Face Shields

We have all seen the constant news reports about the shortages of medical supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical staffs and first responders.  A team from the Saint Francis University School of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) and the Shields School of Business (SSOB) has swung into action to help mass produce medical face shields.   Since April 28, this volunteer team of faculty, administrators, and students has assembled and distributed nearly 250 face shields to area medical staffs. 

Marketing/MIS major, Hunter Longenecker, produced this stop motion video showcasing week 2 of face shield production and assembly.

This process started through a series of conversations between Associate Professor of Engineering Associate Professor Dr. Rachel Wagner and Engineering Department Lab Instructor Brother Marius Strom and SFU Enactus co-advisors Ms. Nicole Bauman and Professor Kent Tonkin.  Dr. Wagner and Brother Strom had already been designing a process to make use of SFU’s 3d printing lab to produce shields, but lacked the labor to build a production line.  SFU’s Enactus team stepped in to provide the labor to help produce these shields en masse. 

The shield itself is a simple yet ingenious design, consisting of a one piece frame connected to a head band and removable plastic shield.  Created from an open-source design, the apparatus is familiar to medical staffs and easy to clean.  Thanks to the use of 3d printing technology and commercially-available materials, these face shields can be produced by volunteers for roughly $2.50 each.

Over two production runs on 4/28 and 5/05, volunteer teams assembled face shields in an open-air setting.  Dr. Wagner was on site to supervise the process while ensuring that all production was sanitary and safe for all participants, including social distancing, face shields, rubber gloves, and constant sanitizing.  In addition to STEAM and SSOB volunteers, community members and faculty from the SFU School of Health Sciences joined the team as well. 

As a result, these face shields are being distributed to area medical staffs and first responders free of charge, ready to use in hygienically sealed bags.  The team plans to do at least two more runs as demand remains and supplies hold out.   Dr. Rita Trofino, Associate Dean of Health Sciences and Chair of Nursing at SFU, is distributing these supplies to regional healthcare staffs. 

Dr. Wagner and Brother Marius provided seed funding for the necessary supplies out of their own pockets, but the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies is providing an opportunity to help the public support this effort.  Individuals interested in supporting this cause will consider donating via the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies:   So far, over $1,700 has been raised to keep production rolling!

This response to COVID-19 shows the power of cross-departmental collaboration.   From Dr. Wagner and Brother Marius’ ingenious design and production method to Ms. Bauman and Professor Tonkin’s ability to mobilize student volunteers, this project illustrates what is so special about the Saint Francis community. 

As our students constantly remind us, we all can make a difference in our communities!  A special shout out to Connie and Mike Burgmeier, for hosting our production line on their property!


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