As COVID-19 began spreading throughout the United States, Director of LITS Academic Digital Initiatives Janet Oppedisano and Director of Sponsored Program Grants Jeff Ritchie began researching various ways in which the College might be able to help in the fight against the virus. Realizing that the library’s three 3D printers were sitting idle along with another in the geoscience department, they began to pursue what personal protection equipment (PPE) items could be created with the machines.
The pair quickly identified Syracuse-based Budmen Industries, a company that under normal circumstances designs and manufactures 3D printers, as a perfect partner in their endeavor. In mid-March, the Budmen founders had started to make face shields for health organizations. After reviewing Budmen’s face shield template, Oppedisano identified the visor on which the face shield hangs and the strap lock that holds it in place as two essential pieces that could easily be printed by Hamilton personnel and their volunteer assistants on the 3D printers.
Budmen had received requests for thousands of face shields each week and couldn’t fulfill the demands because of the time-consuming process of printing the visor. Working from home with family members as assistants, the process of generating additional visors seemed like an achievable project using the resources Hamilton had to offer. The College spent approximately $2,000 for the material to create the visors and strap clips.
In order to maintain social distancing, Oppedisano arranged for the 3D printers to be delivered to individuals’ homes. Geosciences Technician Dave Tewksbury, Instructional Designer Doug Higgins, Network Systems Administrator Jesse Thomas and Oppedisano engaged in the project along with Thomas’ son Sam, Oppedisano's son Cole, and Higgin’s daughters Rachael, Ashley, and Lily. In eight weeks, running throughout the day and printing the visors and strap clips at three to four hours per pair, estimates are that the group will deliver nearly 700 pairs in total.
"Our 3D-printing volunteers are adding this work to their daily schedules because they believe in the importance of PPE for healthcare professionals," said Oppedisano. "This connection to broader community efforts to provide COVID-19 relief is just one of the many reasons we are glad to be at Hamilton."
Once printed, Oppedisano has arranged to have the pairs shipped weekly to Budmen where they are being assembled with the face shield, and then disinfected, and shipped to health facilities throughout the state, wherever they may be needed.
“I’m really glad Janet asked me to get involved with this. The printer would be sitting in my office gathering dust if it were not for this project,” Tewksbury said. “Printing these materials helps me feel that I am doing something to support the healthcare professionals who are working so hard to bring this crazy situation under control and help us return to normal.
“I am looking forward to having the printer printing 3D landscapes and 3D views of the Hamilton campus as it has in the past, for now though, I’m very pleased to be supporting the face mask frame printing effort.”