3D printers to the rescue

The MakerBot Replicator Plus, a more advanced printer in Franklin’s arsenal, can complete two of the thin plastic rims per cycle, while the other three machines print one. A full cycle takes about an hour and a half. For the part covering the face, Franklin is using transparency film pierced with a 3-hole punch which attaches to knobs on the rim.

An event like the pandemic happens and through Rotary you have such a broad spectrum of expertise and mission-mindedness. There are people looking for new ways to serve and make the world better.

— Scott Franklin

“We don’t use transparencies anymore in our classrooms. We all have projectors,” Franklin says. “So we had stacks of unopened boxes in the math department. It’s an appropriate choice for the front because it can be reused and disinfected.”

Wayland’s library also donated seven boxes of transparency film. Franklin’s children, including his daughter, Emily, a member of the Wayland Rotaract Club, helped punch holes and assemble the face shields. The Plainview Rotary Club is applying for a district grant to purchase another $3,000 printer. After the need for protective equipment wanes, the Rotary club will donate the printer to the Rotaract club to use for service projects.

In addition to its financial support, the Rotary club is using its connections to help with distribution. The local hospital administer and a nurse are members of the club, and supplied health care workers there with shields. The wife of Wayland University’s president is involved with a local hospice, and through the hospice, the club learned that about 30 nurses from Lubbock, Texas, traveled to New York City to help with the pandemic there. The club sent shields as part of a care packet.

“Rotary gives us a unique opportunity to connect with others throughout the world,” says Jay Givens, president of the Plainview Rotary Club. “When someone gets an idea, we have the means to get it funded and act on it.”

Working day and night

In Florida, Lasorso also uses transparency film in his PPE. Suncoast Technical College, where he works, donated 1,000 sheets. The design he is using, which the NIH approved, includes a visor that prevents splatters from going up and over the transparency sheet. Elastic bands, which he found on the handicrafts website Etsy, secure the visors around the back of people’s heads.

Like Franklin, Lasorso got permission to bring the college’s 3D printers home at the start of the stay-at-home order. He and the county’s certified technical education director obtained several more printers from nearby schools that agreed to lend them. His setup prints four visors a machine every 12 hours. Because of the amount of time it takes, Lasorso sets them to print overnight, and starts a new cycle every morning.

“We fall asleep and hear the 3D printers on the other side of our house,” says Lasorso’s spouse, Mallory, who also is a member of the Venice Sunrise club. “It’s like white noise at this point.”