Durham College creates PPE for frontline health workers

Working out of their garages and basements, Durham College (DC) students, employees and alumni are using 3D printers to create the frames for face shields used by the healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The initiative launched on March 26 and within 48 hours the first donation of personal protective equipment (PPE) built with the college’s 3D-printed parts were delivered to Northumberland Hills Hospital in Cobourg, Ontario.

“Ontario PPE manufacturer InkSmith put out a call for support to the 3D printing community and Durham College immediately answered that call,” said Chris Daniel, a professor with the college’s School of Science & Engineering Technology. “Six of DC’s 3D printers are now relocated to my garage and a group of our Mechanical Engineering Technology students and alumni who have their own 3D printers are on board with this initiative and printing furiously too.”

There are currently 16 DC community members using 26 rapid prototyping machines across Durham Region to create the face shield frames.

With community outreach being led by DC’s Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the college is currently working with two partners to see the parts put to use.

DC is shipping frames to InkSmith, where the parts are used to create the company’s community shield, a sanitized single-use shield which InkSmith is donating quantities of to underfunded hospitals and healthcare providers.

The college is also collaborating with a team from Ontario Tech University that is also creating one-time-use face shields for donation to local healthcare teams.

“I am always proud to count myself among DC’s more than 90,000 alumni but it’s in moments like this that I’m grateful to be part of a community that is so committed to supporting our greater community, especially the brave men and women who are working tirelessly on the healthcare frontline,” said alumnus Brent Lessard, who is currently using his 3D printer at home to contribute to the college’s face shield frame production. Lessard also sits on the DC Alumni Association board of directors.

On March 28, Chris Daniel launched a GoFundMe page with a goal of raising $1,000 to purchase more polylactic acid, or PLA, the printing material used to 3D print the face shield frames. In less than a day, more than $8,000 was donated, 100-per-cent of which will be used to purchase more PLA for the DC project and to purchase more face shields from InkSmith that will also be donated to healthcare providers.

Photo: Chris Daniel is a professor in the Mechanical Engineering Technology at Durham College.

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