UOG joins effort to 3D print face shields; volunteers needed
The University of Guam is combining forces with a local community group in order to make personal protective equipment (PPE) locally and is encouraging others to volunteer for the cause.
The community group, called PPE for Guam, is seeking volunteers – particularly those with sewing experience or a 3D printer – to sew face masks and make 3D-printed face shields from home. The do-it-yourself designs were recently developed by PPE for Guam and take into consideration the preferences of local medical professionals. They will be donated to Guam’s health care professionals, first responders, and others at high risk of contracting COVID-19 should traditional PPE run out.
The University of Guam will provide a safe, centralized area for collaboration as well as four 3D printers configured to produce face shields and a stock of filament.
Others collaborating on the project include Guam Memorial Hospital, Guam Regional Medical City, the Office of Civil Defense, and local 3D-printing firm Gudwood.
“It is great to see how our community is coming together through collaborations like this,” said UOG President Thomas W. Krise. “Just last week, we were discussing how we can use our 3D printers to help provide much needed personal protective equipment to our front-line health care personnel. And now we have another way that UOG is able to help in the response efforts.”
According to an article published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, hospitals nationwide are already reporting a worrisome shortage of PPE, including masks and face shields. The consequences can be dire: In Italy, health care workers experienced high rates of infection and death partly because of inadequate access to PPE. And recent estimates in the United States suggest that far more respirators and surgical masks will be needed than are available.
“The local response has been inspiring,” said Allison Rutter, a local engineer and co-founder of the group. “In two weeks, we’ve developed multiple prototypes, tested them in local hospitals, and finalized preferred designs. Now we’re looking to expand with more volunteers.”
PPE for Guam’s designs are based on open-source solutions that were developed for the coronavirus pandemic and have already been implemented in other hospitals.
“With worldwide shortages of lifesaving protective gear, it is critical to be proactive, but it is also critical to produce reliable, high-quality safety equipment,” said Dr. Dave Weingarten, chairman of the Department of Surgery at Guam Memorial Hospital. “PPE for Guam has done a great job partnering health care professionals, engineers, and scientists to help guide this effort, and I encourage everyone to contribute in whatever way you can to their efforts to keep our community safe.”
PPE for Guam will work closely with the Office of Civil Defense to donate the PPE.
“With this donation, we can start equipping support personnel who have been in the fight since day one and fulfilling outstanding requests for resources,” said Charles Esteves, administrator of the Office of Civil Defense. “The effort here truly embodies a whole of the community approach to emergencies.”
Cyrus Luhr, co-founder of PPE for Guam, said the Centers for Disease Control recommends the use of emergency, homemade PPE as a last resort when traditional, commercial PPE are unavailable.
“We need to prepare for things getting much worse,” Luhr said. “If Guam experiences the same shortage of PPE that other places around the country are witnessing, the protective gear that volunteers make now may literally save lives.”
PPE for Guam welcomes anyone interested in learning more about volunteering opportunities to visit www.PPEforGuam.com or facebook.com/groups/PPEforGuam for additional information and guidance on how to get started.