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ASMSA provides face shields for health care workers

by John Anderson The Sentinel-Record | April 20, 2020 at 4:00 a.m.
The Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts. - File photo by The Sentinel-Record

The Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts is using 3D printing to provide face shields to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

The school is using multiple 3D printers located on campus and several other printers operated by students, alumni and other colleagues working remotely to print the basic hardware for the headgear, Nicholas Seward, an ASMSA computer science instructor, who is leading the project, said in a news release.

The University of Arkansas System has sought opportunities for affiliate campuses to contribute to efforts to respond to the global pandemic. Donald Bobbitt, president of University of Arkansas System, contacted ASMSA Director Corey Alderdice to see if the school could leverage its resources to produce PPE, it said.

"ASMSA is honored to do our part to support the dedicated health care professionals at UAMS in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic," Alderdice said. "From the outset of the state's response, Dr. Bobbitt has challenged campuses to identify ways they can offer their resources, capacity, knowledge and creativity to meet the state's needs during this moment of crisis."

Alderdice and Seward found a design that had already received emergency approval by the National Institutes of Health, the release said.

"I would have been glad to design my own, but it's a long process to get approval," Seward said. "I found a design that was already NIH approved. I can print it as one piece, but it's quite large. I could just barely swirl four around on the print bed."

"ASMSA has one large format printer that can simultaneously print four complete headgear pieces. The other printers within the school's Fredinburg Technology Center, including devices used by students in the school's Modern Manufacturing class, were too small to print even one whole headgear piece. Seward was able to modify the design to print the headgear in pieces that could be quickly assembled. The modified design received UAMS approval earlier this week, and the team of volunteers ramped up production. Seward is hoping to produce 100 to 120 masks from the 20 printers this week to provide to UAMS," the release said.

Vraj Modi and Dawson Jones, two Hot Springs natives and seniors at ASMSA, both are helping print the face shields at their homes. The students are attending classes through remote instruction, but this will allow them to still stay connected to the institution, it said.

"Honestly, I love 3D printing, and I just have to have something printing at all times or I just don't feel like I'm using the printer efficiently," Modi said. "There is a bunch of stuff online, but once I print that stuff, it usually doesn't have any purpose and is just there to exist. But with these masks, I at least know they'll be used for a good cause."

"Everyone can do something to help out during these weird times -- even it's something small like social distancing properly. Everyone should help out in some way, and making 3D-printed masks is just the best way for me to help," Jones said.

Andrew Hemund, an ASMSA alumni, is a senior studying science and technology with an emphasis in computer-aided drafting and design at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. He began to wonder if the 3D printer farm in the ASU maker space could be useful. He received a nudge from his grandmother to get involved and received three 3D printers to help the shield mask program, the release said.

"I was just starting to get my foot in the door (in the ASU maker space)," Hemund said. "I was stuck at home and thought about all those printers up there. I debated going back up there, but I decided I'd rather be at home with my parents if there was a stay-at-home order issued. So my grandmother said what about (ASMSA)?"

"Perhaps the most heartening aspect of the project is the way it has connected ASMSA students, faculty, staff and alumni during this period of social distancing and remote work," Alderdice said. "Having a shared sense of purpose is a meaningful way to remain connected when we're unable to collaborate in person."

"Seward said it takes about four hours to print a complete mask. On the smaller printers, that includes four pieces -- two pieces that go over the earlobes and two others that form the bridge. Four screws bring the pieces together. A transparent plastic screen is attached to the front. An elastic or rubber headband is attached to it to hold it in place," the release said.

Assembly of the masks will be determined by UAMS. Seward is following the medical center's direction as to what will be the most pragmatic and safest way for the masks to be delivered, it said.

"Alliance Rubber Co. in Hot Springs is contributing headbands for the shields. The company normally produces rubber bands but recently switched its manufacturing line to produce the rubber strips to attach to face shields nationwide," the release said.

Seward said he was appreciative of the collective efforts of ASMSA and others to meet such a critical need.

Local on 04/20/2020

Print Headline: ASMSA provides face shields

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