/In the Fight Against COVID-19, Some Tools Are 3D-Printed

In the Fight Against COVID-19, Some Tools Are 3D-Printed


On college campuses nationwide, 3D printing has opened the floodgates of creativity, with students and faculty leveraging the technology for a range of educational uses in the years since the technology first came available. Now, with the healthcare industry facing critical supply shortages, higher education is elevating 3D printing from a creative endeavor to a potentially lifesaving one.

In recent weeks, faculty members at Northwestern University, for example, have fired up their high-speed printers to support first responders by churning out straps that hold plexiglass face shields in place. “The COVID-19 crisis has put a bright spotlight on the need for additive manufacturing,” says Northwestern chemistry professor Chad A. Mirkin. “We wanted to prove that this kind of 3D printing can make a difference, and we wanted to give back to the community.”

Northwestern is among the many colleges using 3D printing to produce protective gear on demand for medical workers. With many frontline healthcare personnel desperate for protective gear, the academic community. 

MORE FROM EDTECH: Learn how 3D printing curriculums are accelerating the next generation of innovators

A Nationwide Push To Print Safety Gear

At the University of Texas, they’re 3D-printing a valve that converts a snorkel mask into safety gear. Harrisburg University of Science & Technology is using the tech to make face shields for long-term care workers. And the College of Charleston is 3D-printing masks for healthcare workers.

At the Loyola Notre Dame Library, jointly operated by Notre Dame of Maryland University and Loyola University Maryland, technology librarian Matthew Treskon has been using three Dremel 3D Idea Builder printers to produce face shield components.

With the students at home, “these machines would have just been sitting in the library doing nothing,” Treskon says. “The university saw a critical need for this, and there is also just a general altruistic sense of wanting to help.”

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