Beverly Owens is an 8th grade science teacher in North Carolina. She is also a Mississippi State University student, studying Environmental Geoscience through MS State online.
In addition to videoconferencing with students, developing remote learning opportunities, chasing her toddler around, and completing coursework for Dr. Renee Clary’s Geology of North America class, Owens has been 3D printing masks, face shields, and ear guards for healthcare workers.
Many teachers, like Owens, are able to telework and develop remote learning activities for students, but healthcare workers are essential, and they cannot work remotely. And, many locations are experiencing personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages. Owens wanted to find a way to help out, and to provide materials for nurses, like her mom, during this pandemic. After hearing that many healthcare workers had to reuse protective masks, sometimes for more than a week, Owens did some research, looking for ways to put her MakerBot 3D printers to work. She talked with some healthcare workers to see what their immediate needs were, and then started printing several different prototypes.
Many essential workers, healthcare facilities, hospitals, and immunocompromised individuals have reached out to Owens in need of PPE supplies. Owens has produced approximately 250 pieces of PPE. The most popular items have been ear guards, face shields, and masks. The ear guards attach mask straps behind the head to prevent sores from forming around the ears. Owens is currently working on completing an order of 156 ear guards for a local nursing home. All PPE gear Owens makes is given away for free.
Owens has also been making 3D printed masks, which provide an extra layer of protection when worn on top of a paper or cloth mask, or bandana. This mask is intended to prevent the accumulation of pathogens on the material that is against the face.
Face shields have also been popular with many area doctors and nurses. The face shield is made of a 3D printed visor that attaches to a clear plastic sheet, like acetate or Dura-Lar. This provides extended coverage of the face, allowing for an n95 surgical mask, and even goggles to be worn with the face shield, to prevent aerosolized pathogens from getting on the face.For now, Owens’ dining room has been converted into a 3D printing workshop. Her husband, Scott, has been very supportive, and their 4-year-old daughter is very curious, and loves watching the printers at work. Owens’ in-laws, MSU alums Donald and Glenda Owens, have also pitched in, and even provided additional materials for the 3D printer.
Want to help out?
These are the links to download STL files that you can print and share with healthcare and essential workers in your area.
Face shield: Link
Ear guards: Link
Respirator-style mask: Link