At the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, library employees at the University of Utah never envisioned they’d play a role in helping health care workers on the front lines. But today, staff members at the U’s J. Willard Marriott Library, Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library and Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute are working together to produce and distribute face shields desperately needed in the health care community while facing the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When the U’s Office of the Vice President for Research asked the campus community for donations of personal protective equipment (PPE), we looked to our 3-D printing team immediately,” said Catherine Soehner, associate dean and director of the Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library. “Fortunately, we were able to gather the necessary supplies quickly and our team was able to get right on it.”
TJ Ferrill, head of Creative Spaces at the Marriott Library, and Ben Engel, user experience developer at the Eccles Health Sciences Library, came together last weekend to begin developing prototypes of these needed supplies. They started with face shields that are used to protect the facial area, including eyes, nose and mouth from splashes, sprays and splatter of body fluids.
With help from the nationwide library and maker space community who are working together to prototype diagnostics for face shield production, Ferrill and Engel designed a version to share with Tad Morley, health executive director of Outreach and Network Development at the U, who is leading the effort for community PPE donations.
Ferrill and Engel started production after reaching an agreement with University of Utah Health that they meet the
medical grade standards required of PPE. When all 30 3-D printers are up and running, they’ll be producing approximately 300 face shields a day.
“When we first started building our 3-D printing program back in 2013, we had no idea the scale at which our program would expand and how we would one day play a role that would touch so many lives,” said Alberta Comer, dean of libraries at the University of Utah. “We are fortunate to be a part of helping provide the protective shields that our health care workers so desperately need and we’ll continue to help in any way we can.”