STEM PPE Project

The current COVID-19 epidemic has become an immediate and serious issue on a global scale. Many medical institutions have become strained due to the exponential rise in infected patients requiring medical attention. There is also an increasing demand to establish safe and effective testing facilities in areas most affected by the virus. Health care professionals (HCP’s) must take extra precautions and utilize PPE (personal protective equipment) to reduce their chances of exposure to the contagious virus.

Over the course of the past few months, the United States has had its supply of PPE decimated. In New Jersey, nurses and HCP’s have been asked to reuse PPE or find alternative equipment that may not be as safe. Large manufacturers are being asked to retool their facilities to produce more PPE such as N95 breathing masks and face shields. However, it may be time consuming for this equipment to be manufactured and shipped to local hospitals and facilities in need.

As a result of forced curfews and shutdowns, many local businesses have donated their unused PPE inventory to medical facilities. In addition, small businesses and 3D printing companies, such as Budmen Industries, have been utilizing their equipment to produce and distribute PPE.

World Health Organization on PPE Shortage
Our face shield design uses 3D printers to create and assemble reusable face shields that will then be delivered to local hospitals and health care workers. The design of the shields has been derived from Budmen Industries, a company focused on the production and usage of 3D printers.

Once the shield is printed using PLA filament, foam weatherstripping tape, elastic, plastic binder coverings and super glue are used to fully assemble the face shield and connect all of its parts. The 3D printing process is time consuming, requiring 3 hours for each print. However, the 3D printer does 95% of the work. Assembling the rest of the shield takes 5-10 minutes.

The rigidity of the clear plastic ensures that there is almost full blockage of all droplets and bodily fluids that could put medical professionals at risk of contracting the virus. The modular design also means the clear plastic can be replaced or cleaned very easily. This prevents medical professionals from being forced to reuse dirty supplies and prevents medical staff from becoming infected by contaminated equipment.

In addition, by using wide elastic as the face shield strap and foam weatherstrip as padding, users can wear the shields comfortably on their heads for hours at a time.
On average, it costs roughly $4 to create one of our face shields. Although the materials are everyday items, purchasing them during this pandemic has been challenging. Many of the materials are frequently backordered or sold in limited quantities since consumer demand for them has spiked along with the need for PPE. In order for our project to continue supplying facemasks to our local heroes, we are asking for community donations to fund our production costs. Any surplus funds that are generated will be donated to other local relief groups helping to produce protective gear or aiding in coronavirus relief efforts.

We are currently not accepting any more donations as we have a surplus in supplies, however if you still want to donate to your community please consider donating to The UWMOC Covid-19 Recovery Fund. This fund supports families in Ocean and Monmouth Counties who are financially impacted by the current crisis. The BTPS STEM Academy thanks you for your support and for #HelpingOutWhileStayingIn.