CLTCC joins effort to support healthcare workers battling COVID-19
Central Louisiana Technical Community College (CLTCC) is joining with other local colleges and businesses to use 3-D printing technology to create personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers and first responders treating patients during the current COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
“CLTCC has 3D printing equipment students use as part of their learning curriculum,” said CLTCC, Alexandria Campus Dean Lisa Doney. “We are honored to be able to make it available to assist the community during this critical time. I am so pleased that one of our students, SGA Executive President and LCTCS Student Board Supervisor Shanco Williams, had experience with the printer and has taken the lead in getting materials manufactured.”
Williams said he first learned about the opportunity to use the school’s Fusion3 3D printer from Alexandria Campus Dean Lisa Doney. Vice Chancellor of Workforce Solutions Misty Slater then told him about a request she had seen on Facebook seeking people with 3D printing technology to help with production of face shields for local healthcare workers. A GoFundMe account seeking financial support for 3D printing of PPE has been established.
Williams quickly realized CLTCC’s printer could produce the visor head units for the Budman-style face shields the group was seeking. The trick was figuring out how to use the machine to do that. “I had not gotten to that part of the instruction in my coursework,” Williams said. “All I had done was clean it and turn it on.”
Williams reached out to CLTCC Drafting Technology instructor Clay Ducote who walked him through the basics of operating the machine. From there, Williams went online and to the PPE 3D Printing for Cenla Facebook user group to get tips and suggestions as he worked through figuring out how to load the proper file to create the head unit. “There was a lot of trial and error. It took a couple of days to get everything right,” he said.
Once he determined the optimal configuration, Williams said he can produce a head piece in just under 90 minutes. “It took a little while to get it right, but it was important to me that it be just right. It couldn’t just be ‘close enough,’” Williams said. “I feel like I am making it for me, that’s the level of intensity I am putting into this. I don’t want one of these to fail and someone get sick.”
Williams said his goal is to produce 30 head pieces as a start. It took him 16 hours over two days to make his first 12 units using a single 3D printer. Now that he has the process down, CLTCC was able to add a second printer to double the daily output. “We currently have enough supplies on hand to make about 200 head pieces,” he said. Williams said the printer can be used to make other PPE items as well adding, “if they need us to shift to make masks, we can do that.”
As a drafting and design student, Williams never expected he would one day be producing protective equipment for healthcare workers. “I’m humbled, giddy and excited about this project,” he said. “It’s great when you can connect education to a real-time need.”
“I don’t know how to fight COVID,” he continued. “But if I can help someone do their job and make them safer, that’s a good thing.”
“CLTCC is honored to join with many other partners including Rapides Regional Medial Hospital, CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Hospital, PPE 3D Printing for Cenla, LSU of Alexandria, Louisiana College, Rapides Parish School Board, Rapides Parish Library, St. Francis Cabrini School, Alexandria Country Day, Cleco Corporation, 3D Transition Services, and Zed Axis, LLC,” said CLTCC Vice Chancellor of Workforce Solutions Misty Slayter.
Anyone wishing to make a donation to the GoFundMe campaign for local PPE production can go www.gofundme.com and search for PPE 3D Printing Project.