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3D Printing PPE for Frontline Workers

3D Printing PPE for Frontline Workers

The Open Source Medical Supply or OSMS-Barrow Project is a collaborative effort by a team of innovative Barrow County School System teachers and local makers to support our area’s first responders and healthcare providers during the COVID-19 medical crisis to produce personal protective equipment (PPE), and connecting the project to student learning in the process.

Consider supporting this bold initiative as part of Giving Tuesday on May 5th.

Donate now

OSMS-Barrow Project

The OSMS-Barrow team is using non-traditional manufacturing procedures consisting of 3D printing to produce reusable face masks and shields. Harkening back to the cottage days of manufacturing, six of the team members oversee 3D printers in their home makerspace, which could be anywhere from 4 to 15 printing units. The team coordinates the number of items they are printing, based on the requested orders from local organizations. 

In total, the project has about 30 3D printers producing parts at any given time. It takes about 3-4 hours to print a mask and about 1 hour for a face shield. After each item is printed, additional “post production” steps are required, which includes things like sanding.

On April 16th, components for 150 reusable protective “Montana Mask” kits were delivered to the Winder Police Department. By cutting a single surgical mask into multiple 2.5” square pieces, the 3D printed Montana Mask uses one square per use, which significantly extends the life of the mask. 

In addition, 330 face shields were donated to Northeast Georgia Medical Center Barrow the week of April 21st for use by their physicians. Northeast Georgia Medical Center Barrow is a District Partner in Education with the Barrow County School System and this has been an incredible effort to support that partnership.

Each face shield kit consists of a headband and the transparent shield that covers the face. The clear component is being produced by Peachtree Tooling, a local engineering and tooling manufacturer. Shields can be disinfected and reused. 

An additional 50+ masks and face shields have been delivered to a number of smaller organizations, including Aarons In-Home Health Care Providers, Twilley Dentistry, FBI Atlanta Office, and the Barrow Detention Center. Requests for PPE have been received by a number of additional organizations and individuals in Barrow County; OMSM-Barrow is doing its best to meet all of those needs. All items produced are 100% donated to organizations at no cost. 

To offset the cost of the materials needed in production, donations are being accepted through the Barrow Community Foundation’s website. To date, over $2,000 has been raised for this project, including a $1,000 donation by Winder Rotary Club.

People Behind the PPE

Lee Bane is the Director of Innovative Learning for Barrow County School System. He has served as the leader for this initiative bringing together teachers and community partners to work together under the shared goal of supporting our healthcare workers and first responders. Here’s a spotlight on a few of the teachers involved in this collaborative project that are producing PPE and involving their students in the learning and design process as well. 

Benjamin Manning

Benjamin Manning is the mechatronics instructor at the Sims Academy of Innovation & Technology. He also serves as the Head Coach of the Sims Academy & Barrow 4H FIRST Robotics Team. 

About a week after the state of emergency was declared, a member of the robotics team contacted Mr. Manning about making masks and face shields for hospitals and first responders. Concurrently, a local organization called the Georgia PropellorHeads reached out with the same request and wanted to get involved. 

Through the robotics team’s research, students discovered and selected the Montana Mask design for their project. Due to social distancing and sheltering in place constraints, the physical contributions by student members of the robotics team have been limited. However, the entire OSMS-Barrow Group is indebted to the RoboClovers Team 5132 of Sims Academy & Barrow 4H for their initiative that helped launch this community service project. 

Mr. Manning currently has fourteen 3D printers in his home makerspace dedicated to the OSMS-Barrow project that has enabled him to produce over 300 masks and face shields to date.

Kimberly Garren

Kimberly Garren is the engineering teacher for Winder-Barrow High School and serves as the advisor for the WBHS Technology Student Association (TSA). Through local connections, Ms. Garren found out about and joined the OSMS-Barrow Group. 

As an engineering teacher, Kimberly saw this as an opportunity to expose her students to the OSMS-Barrow project. Early lessons focused on how 3D printers, laser cutters, and CNC machines work. Students then conducted research regarding Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) that makers around the world were designing and producing using those machines. 

Using an instructional time lapse video (watch) of her 3D printer printing the face masks, students mathematically calculated how many masks could be produced each day per 3D printer, and how much each it costs to produce each mask based on the price of each roll of material.

Further student research assignments focused on the safety behind makers creating PPE in comparison to what equipment healthcare providers typically used prior to the shortage. Students then selected what PPE device they would choose to make if they were only allowed to make one. They had to give the rationale for their choice citing research related to cost, time, safety, impact, required skills, etc. 

Next, Mrs. Garren lead virtual class discussions covering the difference between the masks and face shields, as well as the various troubleshooting processes the OSMS-Barrow Group has currently been working through related to producing face shield visors. 

Through Mrs. Garren’s integration of the OSMS-Barrow project into her daily classroom instruction, her students have been authentically engaged in applying learning to life in a number of ways: 
•    how we can help
•    how we have a duty as makers to use our skills to help others
•    how much work it takes to get designs right
•    how to research and account for liabilities
•    how multiple people are coming together to make the work possible
•    how teamwork is important

Kimberly Garren has been 3D printing Montana Masks, conducting research, contacting vendors, and keeping her engineering students updated in the project-based learning process all along the way.

Please consider contributing to this essential grassroots efforts to support our frontline workers. Donations are being accepted through the Barrow Community Foundation’s website.

Donate now


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