Library uses 3D printers to print, donate face shields

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published July 28, 2020

 Staff from the Rochester Hills Public Library made around 150 shields with its 3D printers and donated them to local nursing homes and hospitals.

Staff from the Rochester Hills Public Library made around 150 shields with its 3D printers and donated them to local nursing homes and hospitals.

Photo provided by the Rochester Hills Public Library

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ROCHESTER HILLS — The Rochester Hills Public Library has put its 3D printers to use to create face shields for local health care workers, senior centers and community members.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Eureka Lab/Makerspace Specialist Tierney Czartoski made around 150 shields, which were donated to local nursing homes and hospitals.

“Early into the coronavirus pandemic, there was a shortage of PPE,” Library Director Juliane Morian said. “As many people were called into action when it came to sewing cloth face masks, we recognized that we had a unique opportunity to actually produce the plastic-style face shields.”

While the library building was closed, Czartoski brought the 3D printing equipment home and downloaded the design files from stratasys.com. She was able to print a complete shield visor — which includes a visor, a plastic shield and a fastener — every two hours.

“We’ve been printing several masks to donate to the community and also to have on staff. Right now, we’re focusing on printing so that our staff can have them at the library, now that the library is open,” she said.

Library Director Juliane Morian said the library donated the materials used to create the face shields.

“We have since brought the equipment in-house, and we’ve been busy making face shields that will be made available to patrons who are unable to wear a cloth mask covering. We don’t have a tremendous supply … so we are going to be limited in how many we hand out. But for those who can’t medically tolerate the cloth face covering, this is a very viable alternative,” Morian said.

The Rochester Hills Public Library has two 3D printers, which are typically available in its Eureka Lab/Makerspace upstairs. The library owns a LulzBot Taz 6 printer, which prints 11-by-11-by-9.8 inches, and a LulzBot Mini printer, which prints 6-by-6-by-6.2 inches. Both printers can print in a variety of mediums, including wood, polyester, bronze, copper, polycarbonate, nylon and more, according to Czartoski.

Just before the library building was forced to close due to the COVID-19 self-quarantine restrictions, Czartoski said, the library also acquired a new 3D scanner, which allows people to scan 3D designs and recreate them on the 3D printers. The library was able to purchase the 3D scanner thanks to a grant from First Congregational Church of Rochester through its Huizenga Fund, an endowment through the church.

The scanner, Czartoski said, assists in getting a design’s exact measurements that are then sent to the printer.

“The scanner can scan objects, and we can recreate them with the printer. So if you have a broken part or something that is not made anymore, (we can recreate it),” she explained. “It’s a really cool machine that can really cut down on throwing things out because they are broken.”

The Eureka Lab/Makerspace is currently closed under the library’s reopening plan, which was in phase three at press time. Morian said she hopes to reopen the space in phase two of the library’s reopening plan.

“We are keeping an eye on things, being very cautious and making sure we are doing things safely,” Czartoski said. “When we do re-open, it will be by appointment only, and it will be one household at a time in the room.”

At the library, 3D prints typically cost 20 cents per gram. Users will also incur a fee of 50 cents per hour beginning at four hours. For more information about the library’s 3D printers, visit rhpl.org/use-the-library/eurekalab.

For information about the Rochester Hills Public Library’s response to COVID-19, visit rhpl.org.

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