Printing protection

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

Colleges use 3D printers and fabrication laboratories to help their local health workers.

As medical professionals battle the coronavirus pandemic, community colleges across the nation are donating personal protective equipment (PPE) to their local hospitals and clinics. One college is now helping to make protective equipment.

Houston Community College (HCC) in Texas will use its high-capacity 3D printing labs to produce protective face shields to assist M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Memorial Hermann Health System, and Baylor College of Medicine.

A local nonprofit makerspace, TX/RX Labs, can provide 600 face shields a day to Memorial Hermann Health System. By partnering with HCC, they can boost the production of the protective equipment.

A Harris County judge had to approve a waiver to allow for this work.

“Houston Community College is proud to be partnering with TX/RX Labs and our local area hospitals to address the shortage of personal protective equipment for our healthcare providers out on the front lines,” HCC Chancellor Cesar Maldonado said in a release. “Our innovative programs and services are in place to support and further our community’s citizens and progress, and that is no different during challenging times such as the one we currently face with the Coronavirus.”

HCC has two facilities that can not only provide high-capacity production of protective face shields while requiring minimal staff supervision. The IDEAStudio at West Houston Institute has 32 printers, each of which can produce 600 face shields a day. And HCC’s Advanced Manufacturing Center has 30 printers, which also can each produce 600 face shields a day.

Western Kentucky Community and Technical College also will use its 3D printers to make a component needed in face shields. Virginia’s Patrick Henry Community College is making face shields in in its FabLab, with 12 printers running non-stop. Each shield costs about $1 to make, according to this article. And Calhoun Community College in Alabama can make 15 head pieces a day with its 3D printer to help workers at the Huntsville Hospital.

For more information on colleges manufacturing PPE, check out this CC Daily article.

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.