CSULB Scholar Writes About Her Experience 3D Printing PPE for Health Workers

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Contact Info: enrique.flores@csulb.edu

During summer 2020, a California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) BUILD alumni wrote an article about her experience in assisting with the creation of 3D printed face shields for health care providers at the CSULB Gerald M. Kline Innovation Space. The following is her account of that experience.

By Monica Robles

Dr. Christiane Beyer (Technical Director of I-Space) and CSULB alumna Monica Robles. 

Hello, my name is Monica Robles, and I am a former BUILD Scholar (Class of 2017), currently enrolled in the chemical engineering master’s program here at CSULB, and I’m one of the 3D printing technical experts at the University Library’s Gerald M. Kline Innovation Space (I-Space). During these tough times, we are all doing what we can; some are making face coverings, keeping groceries and essential stores open, feeding the community, raising funds to aid our undocumented community, sheltering our unhoused community, and staying at home to help flatten the curve by practicing physical distancing, Here, we are making personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care providers.

When the stay-at-home order was implemented in March, at first, it was very nerve-wracking. Yet our team realized that our I-Space facility and 3D printing expertise would go to waste if we didn’t put it to use. Although we could have resorted to working from home as the simplest choice, we wanted to do more. We wanted to make a contribution to help those who fight for the lives of patients by risking their lives every day for our community, family, and friends in need. At the time, we realized that we became part of a collective 3D printing movement to help essential workers.

Here at the I-Space, we have a small, hard-working team of four, which includes two other technicians and my former BUILD mentor Dr. Christiane Beyer, the current Technical Director of the I-Space. Thanks to the leadership of Roman Kochan, dean of the library, and Dr. Beyer, we were able to coordinate and redirect our resources to the production of face shields to donate to health care workers in our community. As an I-Space technician, I have played an important role in many aspects of this project, including the testing of the design, design improvements, 3D printing the face shield frames, laser cutting the face shields, sanitizing the pieces, assembling the shields, and preparing them for pick-up.

Seeing the appreciation and comments of relief from the various hospital, care facilities, police departments, etc. staff that come to take our donations bring us such joy and honor to our team. On average, we can assemble 30-40 shields per day; our day-to-day routine consists of making sure all the 3D printers are running to keep our frame supply up, laser cutting shields throughout the day, cleaning up prints and disinfecting shields to prepare for the assembly process. On scheduled donation pick-up days, we bag the already sanitized shields and hand them over to the requesting party.

Thus far, we have donated more than 2,711 face shields to over 30 institutions. As an enriching environment with my collective team, the Innovation Space provides me an opportunity to – directly and indirectly – interact with my community by offering essential protective equipment to our heroes and angels.

I would like to take a moment to thank all the people on the front line, including nurses, doctors, paramedics, custodial personnel, volunteers, and the many more that we don’t even see fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic. The request to help others has brought about a movement of voluntary work, which is bringing communities together.

The takeaway message from this team’s contribution is to DO YOUR PART; do what you can to be #someoneslight and help your fellow neighbors. Ask for assistance if you need it because there are many out there who want to help those in need. So stay at home, practice recommended distancing guidelines, or safely go out there and help those who can’t help themselves. Do your part to help your community move forward. We need to work together to get through these tough times. Stay safe and reach out to your loved ones.

The Diversity Program Consortium Coordination and Evaluation Center at UCLA is supported by Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health / National Institutes of General Medical Sciences under award number U54GM119024.
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