Lafayette Ivy Tech leading state on 3D printed face shield production

The fleet of 3D printers can make about 2,000 visors for the face shields per week. That's the most out of all Ivy Tech campuses.

Posted: May 13, 2020 6:59 PM
Updated: May 14, 2020 1:33 PM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - Lafayette's Ivy Tech campus is contributing to a statewide effort to 3D print face shields for coronavirus frontline workers. They've been producing face shields since around the beginning of April.

"It's kind of like a second job for me," said Joshua Nelson, who is Program Director for Design Technology and an assistant professor at Ivy Tech in Lafayette by day, and manages a fleet of 3D printers by night.

"The main thing in the lab we've been doing is printing parts for visors for face shields," he said. "These visors protect doctors and nurses and other health care workers and first responders from splatter."

Eleven Ivy Tech campuses are 3D printing shields that are being sent to Indiana hospitals, nursing homes, fire departments, medical clinics and health departments. The Lafayette campus leads the way on production and innovation.

"Our facility here in Lafayette can do about 2,000 per week at max production," he said.

Nelson and his team of lab assistants took manufacturer-made prints and were able to modify the design to reduce production time.

"The original file had a logo and brim on it and we cut down those for a couple of reasons just to reduce the time," he said.

Once they nailed down the design, they sent it to the other Ivy Tech campuses across the state. It takes 12 hours for a stack of seven to be made on the small 3D printers and each stack has to be separated by hand

"Then we bag them up with the other pieces, there's the band that goes around your forehead, the clear plastic shield in front of your face and there's a band that holds it all together," he said.

Then it's shipped off to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway where the Indiana National Guard distributes them. Nelson said it's great for them to live out the "community" part of "community college."

"Sometimes we work long hours and if I think about oh, we are here late at night or something, I remember the doctors and nurses who are in much greater risk than we are working much longer hours and that make it all worthwhile," he said.

Nelson said they are also making extra face shields to give to students when they return to campus. They are also sending the shields directly to local hospitals, like Logansport Memorial Hospital.

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