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Wichitans use 3D printers to make face shields for first responders and health officials

Coronavirus in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – First responders and health officials are on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. They are battling more than the virus, but also a shortage of protective gear.

“They are in need of face shields and part of the way you can do that immediately is with 3D printing,” said Nathan Smith, WSU Project Innovation Hub Manager

Wichita Police Department Sgt. Teddy Wisely is teaming up with other community members to use 3D printers to make personal protective equipment.

“Our goal is to produce this equipment, donate it, and help slow the spread of the virus,” said Sgt. Wisely.

Their initial goal is to make 1,000 face shields. Once they reach that, the group will reevaluate the community’s biggest needs. They are looking into ways to use the printers to create printed masks and sanitation chambers for the gear.

Sgt. Wisely says the face shields will be especially useful for the workers making direct contact with people.

“If somebody were to cough in your proximity or anything like that it’s going to help protect the medical staff, the first responders from getting that fluid into a pour like their eyes or their mouth,” he said.

Wichita State University has all 18 of its 3D printers busy at work.

“The campus is closed, but we still have all this equipment available. So, I think it’s only necessary that we come in and do our part to help out,” said Smith.

The face shields are made of plastic and elastic bands that can be sanitized for longer life.

“It’s not a one time use or two time use. You should be able to use these devices for the duration of the pandemic,” said Wisely.

The group is hoping to make their first delivery of gear Thursday, March 26.

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

If you have a 3D printer and would like to volunteer your machine, click here.

If you would like to donate towards the supplies for the printer, click here.

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