Troy University faculty, staff and students are working together to utilize 3D printers to address the current shortage in personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers, and they need help from the public.
The Department of Art and Design, the IDEA Bank, the Broadcast and Digital Network and the Troy University Libraries, among other TROY representatives, are working together on the effort to 3D print needed items such as face shields, but they’re limited by the number of printers at their disposal.
“We’ve got five printers that are running 24/7 right now,” said Ed Noriega, a professor in the Department of Art and Design who is among those heading up the project. “The printing right now is painfully slow. What we’re looking for is people with 3D printers who can help us print more units. We’re doing a callout to our community to anyone with a 3D printer who is willing to help us produce PPE units.”
Amy Drinkard, a TROY alumna and registered nurse with Hospice Compassus in Troy, is serving as a liason to the local medical community.
Supplies are being distributed to local healthcare workers in an effort to determine the greatest areas of need.
“We’ve reached out to Troy Regional Medical Center, our local leaders and first responders,” Drinkard said. “Whether it be N95 masks, face shields or other needed PPE, our vision is to distribute where there is a need. Our goal for this is to get ahead of the curve and have the available PPE that our healthcare workers need to protect themselves and the patients they serve. Our city and community leaders have done an excellent job to ensure that we are well prepared and have supplies readily available during this crisis. This effort is to fill in the gap where needed. We would rather be over-prepared than under.”
Noriega said volunteers can print the items at home.
“Time is really of the essence. We’re good with them printing at home, just to be on call when we’re ready to make the bigger production run,” he said. “We’re not charging for these – this is not a situation where we’re planning on making money. Nobody’s getting compensated for this. We’re doing this to help.”
Once the areas of greatest need are determined, Noriega and his colleagues plan on ramping up printing efforts.
“This is cutting across all boundaries within the university,” said Tara Morelock, Development Coordinator for the Sorrell College of Business. “Our thoughts were let’s try to get some of this into production to maybe be a little bit ahead of it. We thought that if there was anything we could do to go ahead and start the printing process and bring together other people from the Troy community to make sure our area has the PPEs we need, then we should do that.”
Anyone with a 3D printer who would like to help this effort can contact Noriega at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Currently, TROY individuals working on this effort include Noriega, Morelock, Television Operations Manager Ronny Taylor, Producer Jeff Herring, design student David Sanders and Dothan Campus Web Master Tory White.
University Libraries supplied three 3D printers for the effort.
“I was so glad Professor Noriega and his students decided to take this initiative on and eagerly agreed to let them borrow the 3D printers and have all of the printing material we had in the Troy Campus library,” said Dr. Chris Shaffer, Dean of Library Services. “This initiative is one of just many that demonstrates the level of caring for the community that is felt by Troy University students and faculty.”