Library Student Employees 3-D print Face Shields

Science library student employees are building face shields for library staff amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Melissa Galvan wears a face shield in the Makerspace
Face shield on a table in the Makerspace
3-D printing machines in the Makerspace

Allan Price Science Commons (PSC) Research Library staff and student employees are utilizing advanced resources to keep all University of Oregon Libraries’ personnel healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under a new UO Libraries initiative, four student employees have been working diligently to create protective face shields for all library employees using three Lulzbot Taz Pro 3D printers in the DeArmond Makerspace.

“As the COVID-19 crisis began to spread, health facilities locally and around the state were faced with a possible lack of personal protective equipment,” said Interim Associate Dean of Libraries & Research Services Nancy Cunningham.

The inspiration for the library’s initiative was a special request from Paul Steffan, a UO doctoral student in neuroscience, who wanted to utilize the DeArmond MakerSpace 3D printers to create face shields for local healthcare facilities. The science library decided to pursue a similar initiative for their staff and student employees.

Starting in early June, students from the South Eugene High School Robotics Club began creating prototypes for Steffan’s project. Their final design for Lane County healthcare workers ended up being used to create the masks for the library staff as well.

The process of printing a face shield takes roughly two and a half hours, meaning employees are capable of printing nine frames a day, on average.

“We are also using our 3D printers to create the loop that secures the elastic on the back of your head,” said Cunningham. “And finally, we are using our laser cutter to cut out the actual face shield from sheets of PETG.”

With each face shield, every employee will receive a packet of information regarding how to assemble the device and clean it properly.

“We are just beginning to put these packets together for the first shipment to library staff,” said Cunningham. “Shipments will be based on availability of materials on hand to produce the face shields. We are expecting a large shipment of materials to arrive at the MakerSpace very soon.”

Just as important to this technical process as the machines themselves are the four DeArmond Makerspace student employees working closely and diligently on this project.

“As these machines are running non-stop approximately eight hours every day it is important that our student employees catch and correct any mechanical problems the moment they happen,” said Jimmy Murray, Technology Specialist & Student Supervisor in the PSC. “This has allowed our machines to run without any major downtime for several weeks straight.”

Additionally, the student employee Elliott Freeman feels especially appreciative to be part of such a team.

“This project is important because it helps keep the employees of the library safe,” said Freeman. “I feel thankful that I’m able to participate in helping to make the face shields because I feel like I am doing something good for the community.”

Student employee Melissa Galvan also feels as if she is contributing in a positive way to her community.

“I know for a lot of people, buying a mask for every day of the week can get pricey, especially if they come from low-income households, so my hope is that this resource can help lessen the burden and provide an extra resource for people,” said Galvan.

- by Kenzie Hudler, Social Media Writing Assistant, UO Libraries