In response to the shortages experienced by medical care providers dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic, a handful of Colorado College faculty, staff, and students started working in early April to produce 3D printed face shields. Since then, the project has grown and, despite the constraints imposed by COVID-19, the group has fine-tuned the process and produced about 1,200 face shields.

The face shields are being used by various local organizations, including the Office of Emergency Management, the Colorado Springs Fire Department, Southern Colorado state parks, local blood banks, hospitals, nursing homes, dentists, and businesses, and various offices at CC. Additionally, the group has forged a partnership with the Navajo Nation and sends 200 masks a week. “That’s a priority for us; to be a sustaining resource for the Navajo Nation,” says Rachel Paupeck, assistant professor of art, who launched the project with Andrea Bruder, associate professor of math, and members of the ITS staff.

face shields on a table

In addition to the initial 3D manufacturing process, which proved too slow to produce in large quantities, the face shields are now being molded from a two-component resin. Two models are being produced, says SethWilson Gray ’19, the paraprofessional for Creativity & Innovation at CC, who has been heavily involved in the project. The first is the Prusa face shield, which is larger and sturdier, can accommodate glasses and goggles, and is used by firemen, dentists, and others who want a heavier product. The second is a molded version of the Verkstan model, which is smaller, lighter, and takes less time to produce.

In addition to Gray, working on the production side are Ben Shumlin ’22, Noah Smith ’20, and Johanna Hamblett ’20. The group also has developed a public outreach component as more students became interested in the project. Involved in public outreach are Isabella McShea ’20, Marguerite Spaethling ’20, Sam Sanson ’20, Natalie Gubbay ’20, Mia Hsu ’20, and Sophia Quick ’20.

Support for the endeavor has been widespread. The PPE face shield project received an $8,000 Creativity & Innovation Faculty Collaboration Grant, and between Colorado College crowd sourcing, a GoFundMe site, and donations from families, friends, parents, and alumni support, the project has raised $22,000, which is used for materials and to pay the vendors and students. Additionally, the students plan to contact the Clinton Foundation Grant board for information regarding grants, and the project was featured on CNBC’s “Make It” program in May.