Students volunteer to 3D print face shields

Members of Cal Poly Pomona’s College of Engineering recently joined the SoCal Makers COVID-19 Response Team in its efforts to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus by making 3D printed face shields.

Boeing aerospace engineer Eric Gever founded the SoCal Makers COVID-19 Response Team on March 29 as COVID-19 cases were on the rise and social distancing was put into order across the nation. 

The team’s goal is to produce and deliver personal protective equipment (PPE). 

“We are a group of volunteers from around Los Angeles and Orange County, largely comprised of High School for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics teams and makers,” states the team website’s main page. “We have joined forces to 3D print low-cost face shields and PPE for hospitals all over Southern California (and in other hotspots in need across the U.S.).”

Face shields are given as donations, with hospitals like Kaiser Permanente in Baldwin Park (pictured) receiving priority.
(Courtesy of Reggie Aberin)

The team began on GoFundMe as a fundraiser. As of April 26, the page has reached $14,640 of its $20,000 goal.

Although the team started in Southern California, it has made shield deliveries as far as Boston, New York City and Chicago. 

Deliveries are shipped to locations outside of California and are delivered in-person by members local to the customer’s location.

“We don’t sell these (shields),” Gever said. “They’re 100% donated.”

Staff at Glendale Memorial Hospital received face shield donations from the SoCal Makers COVID-19 Response Team.
(Courtesy of SoCal Makers COVID-19 Response Team)

Funds donated to the GoFundMe page are used to purchase materials to print the shields. Glycol-modified polyethylene terephthalate (PETG) is the primary material used for production. Polylactic acid (PLA) isn’t as reusable and it warps in heat, but it’s the second-most used material due to being easier to print and make.

“When we do sterilization, PETG tends to hold it better than PLA,” said second-year manufacturing engineer student Alberto Smith. “We do (use PLA) when there is no other material. PETG is a little harder to print than PLA.”

Face shields are printed in the homes of each of the members including those of CPP students who now have to work from home due to campus closure.

According to Smith, Gever invited CPP alumna Pauline Tasci to the team. After that, she invited several other CPP students including Smith.

“In addition to using my own printers, I have organized groups of colleagues, robotics students and local makers interested in making a difference and helping to produce these face shields,” Gever stated on the team’s GoFundMe page. “I have been directing a dozen printers and growing for this effort in order to increase the PPE production to the greatest extent possible.”

As of April 26, the team has delivered shields to over 35 hospitals. In total, over 4,000 shields have been delivered.

Although the team’s top priority is hospital workers, it has delivered to many other fields of work. Shields can be gained either by messaging team members or through the GoFundMe page. 

A link to the GoFundMe page is available on https://socalcovidresponse.com/.

As well, the team is currently looking for more volunteers. People who can deliver materials to those with 3D printers are also eligible to participate. 

Anyone interested in volunteering can apply at https://socalcovidresponse.com/volunteer/. 

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