ISSUED: 2 April 2020
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens
SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University’s Fine Arts, Science, Technology, Engineering, Educational Resource (FASTEnER) lab has been using 3D printers to make hundreds of face shields for area fire and police departments, hospitals, and nursing homes and is gearing up to begin producing N95 masks that will be distributed statewide by the West Virginia National Guard. The effort is made possible thanks to loans of 3D printers from Jefferson and Berkeley county schools and various departments on campus—which has expanded the fabrication lab production capacity.
“The support and generosity from the community have been amazing,” said Kay Dartt, 3-D fabrication manager, who is organizing the project.
Volunteers from the community have been helping Dartt by monitoring the printing process. As of April 1, more than 250 face shields have been distributed to the Shepherdstown Fire Department, Jefferson County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Back Creek Valley Volunteer Fire Department, Shepherd University Police Department, and Morgan County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. The FASTEnER lab is also working to fulfill requests from the Martinsburg Fire Department and Berkeley County Ambulance Authority.
In the meantime, Dartt is working with the National Guard to develop a prototype reusable N95 mask that can be made on 3D printers, and Chase Molden, theater tech director, has been developing molds to allow components of the N95 masks to be cast.
“We can 3D print N95 masks, but it takes longer than the casting process,” Dartt said.
The N95 masks will go to the National Guard to be finished with a filter and then distributed. Dartt and Molden have been using a design that has been verified to work, including making minor adjustments and safely testing prototypes on faces for feel and fit.
“We’re sharing the information we are gaining from the process with the National Guard to share across the state,” Dartt said. “So, if other entities want to mass produce these in a similar fashion they will know what to look for and what some issues might be.”
Dartt said production of the face shields and N95 masks will continue as long as there’s a need and raw materials are available. Shepherd is accepting donations to help support this project to provide critically needed face shields to area community organizations. For more information, visit https://www.shepherd.edu/covid-19/community-ppe-request.
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