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Faculty Member Using 3D Printer to Make Face Shield Parts for Hospitals

3D-printed face shield parts with Chelsie Romulo

March 30, 2020

With a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers who are battling the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, University of Northern Colorado’s Chelsie Romulo is contributing to the effort to fill the gap.

Chelsie RomuloThe assistant professor of Geography, GIS and Sustainability at UNC is using 3D printers to create the bottom part of the face shield that holds the clear plastic in a curve to protect the face.

Romulo joined the NoCo Face Shield Project, a group that is printing “Prusa 3DPrinter COVID-19 Protective Face Shields” for local hospitals that don’t have access to enough face shields as protective gear.

According to Romulo, the group geared up last week and has already received requests for 100 face shields from local hospitals. Ten of the completed face shields were sent out from New Belgium Wellness for delivery to UC Health nurses, and 65 were delivered to Craig Hospital and St. Andrews Nursing Home in Denver. The group joined a statewide collective called Make4Covid, and if more face shields are printed than what is needed locally, this larger group will assist in getting those 3D printed face shields to where they need to go.

3D printer that Chelsie is using for the face masks
One of two of the 3D printers from the UNC MAST Institute that Romulo is using to produce the bottom part of the face shield.

Example of a face shield part
The other 3D printer that Romulo is using. Here, a printing job of the bottom part of a face shield has been completed.

 Chelsie Romulo holding the 3D printed pieceRomulo holding up a finished 3D-printed part.

Numerous parts printed to be assembled as part of the face shields
Numerous 3D-printed parts that will later be assembled with other parts being printed elsewhere that will eventually result in a face shield.

Finished bottom parts of the face shields
Finalized parts of the bottom holder of the 3D-printed face shields.

Finished face shield
A completed face shield that was made from 3D-printed parts. The bottom blue part is what Romulo has been printing. Photo courtesy of NoCo Face Shield Project.

“I’ve never used a 3D printer before but was able to get everything set up and installed in about a day and then figured out how to print it correctly in about two tries,” she said. “Because the 3D printers we have are small, and the larger headband piece doesn’t fit, I’ve partnered with a guy in Loveland who has figured out how print several top headbands at once, which we’ll then deliver groups of the two pieces together to The Project for assembly.”

Watch the 3D printer in action:

Romulo is using two Afinia H400+ 3D Printers that are normally housed in the Math and Science Teaching (MAST) Institute Makerspace in Ross Hall. Romulo was given permission by the department to bring them home with her after the campus shut down. She's being remotely assisted by Christy Taylor, Ed.D., a postdoctoral research associate in the MAST Institute who manages the Makerspace.

Monetary donations are being accepted in order to purchase more material for the 3D printing of more face shields.

Other Efforts

Marian Hamilton, Ph.D., an assistant professor of Anthropology at UNC, and her partner are also using a 3D printer to make N95 small personal masks using open-sourced designs. They're distributing these masks to health care works upon request.

Marian Hamilton"The models we've been using are ones popularized by Dr. Dusty Richardson from Billings, Montana, designed by the Spanish creator La Factoria and a model by a creator in Chile called Copper 3D," Hamilton said. "All are open-source designs and have received good feedback from the nurses who have tried them out."

So far, their 3D-printed masks have been distributed to Pennslyvania, Arizona and Wyoming with plans on distributing within Colorado, as well.

Learn more:

Photos and video courtesy of Romulo.

—Written by Katie Corder

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