There was a need in the community and Shakopee West Middle School teachers Josh Tyson and Mike Sundblad jumped in to help.
With health care workers’ personal protective equipment running low, Tyson and Sundblad figured out a way to help by making face shields for those working on the frontlines against COVID-19.
With the multiple 3D printers at West Middle School, they started using the printers to make face shields.
“We saw a need in the community and had a design that worked,” Tyson said.
The design came from St. Cloud State University, where Sundblad is also an adjunct professor.
“I got an email that was showing what (St. Cloud University) was doing and I thought we could do the same thing,” Sundblad said. “We had the equipment, so I contacted our principal and Josh to see if they were interested.”
So far they have made over 500 face shields and 225 mask extenders for face masks.
Jennifer Ames, Shakopee Public Schools Community Partnerships Manager, played a crucial role in getting the shields into the hands of the health care workers that need them.
“Jennifer reached out to local health care agencies to see who was in need and how many were needed,” Sundblad said. “Two-hundred-and-twenty-five mask extenders were provided to St. Gert’s and St. Francis (Regional Medical Center). Over 500 visor face shields have been produced so far for numerous agencies.”
How does it work?
Put simply: “You make a 3D design on a computer, save the file and send it to 3D printer and they print it basically from plastic. Think of it like a tube of toothpaste and you squeeze the toothpaste out to make an object,” Sundblad said.
A batch of five takes about six hours to make.
“It’s not all that labor-intensive but if you are going to get it done you have to stay on top of it,” Sundblad said. “For a while I was getting up at 2 a.m. and starting another batch. We’ve put out as many as we can each week.”
They used old transparency film used for overhead projectors to create face shields and attached them to visors and the health care companies started donating money to buy new supplies when Tyson and Sundblad needed them.
“We had quite a few rolls of plastic already but once we got going Jennifer reached out to the organizations and they started donating so we could buy more of the product,” Tyson said.
Besides helping out the health care workers and the community, Tyson and Sundblad plan on using this as a teaching tool for their students.
“It will be nice to show them this real need example instead of just a project that fits there needs,” Tyson said.
Sundblad teaches a medical detectives class each year and this would have been a perfect for his class.
“Basically, if we were in class I would have the class try to make the design,” he said.
The two teachers are still producing the product but not as fast as they did at first as the need has slowed down but they can ramp back up at any time.
“We are winding down now but if there is a need we will ramp back up and make as many as we need,” Sundblad said. “As long as they need them we will continue to make them.”