News from Sharespark Media
Indio, Ca: It’s easy to feel helpless during a global pandemic, but everybody has something to offer. Tom Buck is the IMPACT Digital Media Pathway at Indio High School. With classes moved online, Tom found himself at home looking for ways to help.
As a 3D printing hobbyist for several years who saw YouTube videos about people from around the world using 3D printers to create face shields for medical workers on the front line, Tom put his own printers to work.
“I’ve got three printers and I’m printing two designs,” Tom explains. “One is relatively quick and simple, but the other is a bit more complicated, and they serve different purposes.”
The simpler design consists of 3D printing a headband. After that, Tom uses a hole punch and scissors to attach an overhead projector transparency sheet to act as the face shield. He can make seven to ten of these simple designs per day, which are then distributed to local hospitals throughout the Coachella Valley.
The more complex design is a collaboration with Operation Shields Up (opshieldsup.org) based in Northern California. The volunteer-based organization collects donations of 3D printed frames, sterilizes them, and then distributes them to medical professionals.
Tom says that design takes longer to print, but is more durable and able to be sterilized. “I print and send the plastic frames. Each one takes about 6 hours, and then Operation Shields Up adds the clear plastic shield and takes care of the rest.”
According to Tom, the shields aren’t the same as masks, like the N95s which have become a scarce commodity, but they do offer protection. “They can protect a mask being worn underneath the shield, extending it’s usable lifespan.”
Protecting PPE materials has become vital when supplies are at critically low levels.
Even with social distancing and shelter in place orders, Tom isn’t alone in this endeavor. While he’s putting his masks together at the kitchen table, 3D printing hobbyists and professionals from all over the world have joined forces to share designs, donate materials, and distribute PPE to frontline workers who need protection.
“Lots of people are helping out, and it’s a very positive thing. I’m not even the only Rajah at Indio High doing it,” Tom said. “Mylo Hildebrand, our Engineering teacher, is also using his 3D printers to make and distribute shields.”
Originally becoming interested in 3D printing as a hobby and eventually using it with his students to create parts for stop motion animated projects, Tom is excited to see the technology take the spotlight in a time of need.
“3D printing has always been a fun hobby, but this allows it to be so much more. I figured there’s no reason for my printers to just sit idle. They now run all day every day printing face shields while I take care of my normal work.”
Tom Buck was selected as 2020 Riverside County Teacher of the Year, and when he’s not building his own students’ digital media skills, he shares his knowledge with the global community via his YouTube channel, The Enthusiasm Project (http://www.youtube.com/theenthusiasmproject).