West Ranch students 3D print face shields for health care workers

A group of health care providers at the USC Medical Center wear their face shields created by Open-Source Print and Protect. Courtesy photo.

While the number of cases and hospitalizations continue to grow for COVID-19, one group of West Ranch High School 11th-graders have begun to 3D print hospital-grade face shields for frontline health care workers to use.

According to the Open-Source Print and Protect team leader Kevin Gillespie, he and his classmates — Shaden Nasr, Matthew Chan, Rachel Gim and David Gee — have already created 400 shields, with the plan to create 1,000 or more.

The shields take about 52 minutes per frame, Gillespie said, and can cost $1.70 per shield. After they print out as many as they can, the students cut them, punch holes in them and ship them out.

“We started the group on April 7, and we started printing around then,” said Gillespie. “There are five of us … no teachers, no adults.”

Hospital staff wear the face shields made by OPP. Courtesy photo.

According to Gillespie, the masks have already been distributed to a number of medical facilities, including USC Medical Center, Cedars Sinai and Kaiser Permanente, as well as senior homes, private practices and urgent care centers.

The idea, the team has said, came after their school moved to distance learning and they wanted to continue working on things, and learning new things that would help them later in life and in their careers.

Four of the five OPP team members hold a discussion via Zoom. Courtesy photo.

“I had a 3D printer, and I’d learned how to design 3D models,” said Gillespie. “After I looked online at different shield frames, I saw some great models, but also saw there were things I could do to improve them such as make them easier to clean, faster to create, and more comfortable and convenient.”

The team members then created their own design and made it so it could be shared with the world.

“With no school, there’s no structure for a lot of students’ lives,” Gillespie said. “It’s important for everyone to find something that they can really commit themselves to and grow from during this time.”

Hospital staff wear the face shields made by OPP. Courtesy photo.

“Plus, the No. 1 benefit is that we’re getting to help our essential workers,” he said.

A partner of the team and fellow student helping with the fundraising, Tristan Manalang, also an 11th-grader at West Ranch, said he is working with the team during their distance learning because he wanted to help the community and give back as soon as they could.

“We want to do our part as everyone else in society and in the economy is working to better our nation’s situation right now,” said Manalang.

Currently, Open-Source Print and Protect is crowdsourcing its project in the hope of one day reaching its goal of 1,000 face shields. For more information about the project and GoFundMe page, visit https://printandprotect.wordpress.com/.

The groups GoFundMe can be found at www.gofundme.com/printandprotect.

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