While the empty hallways and abandoned classrooms at Brock University are thick with silence, a small team of Brock librarians are keeping the lights ocn to solve some of the problems facing healthcare workers battling COVID-19.
The solution: 3D-printed face shields, initially to be used by first responders in Niagara EMS.
In a week, the team is hoping to have put out 100 of the bio-degradable face shields, based on an open-source design file by a Czech 3D-printer manufacturer.
The design can be printed on any brand of 3D printer by anyone with access to one.
The Brock Library has 5.
“I had heard about a group in Waterloo donating prints to the local hospitals so I presented it to the Makerspace team to figure out if it was possible here and what angle we could take,” said Tabitha Lewis, co-ordinator of the Brock University Library Makerspace.
The group contacted the regions non-emergency line, who jumped on the idea.
“We got a response in a couple of minutes that Niagara EMS were interested. Things have moved along very quickly. We didn’t have any time for red tape, for things to get approved or budgetary numbers. We are donating them, so the region won’t have to worry about the cost,” said librarian Jonathan Younker, also involved in the project.
Each face shield takes around two hours to print.
The design is based around a clip that goes on the head, with the actual clear shield being snapped on.
Because of the design, some creases of the clip can be potential breeding ground for bacteria which makes them only disposable, but the shields themselves can be sanitized and re-used, aiding in the shortage that currently has Niagara Health asking for donations of N95- and surgical masks.
With border closures and supply lines disrupted, the hardest part is to get ahold of the materials, but the group is optimistic that the order placed a few days ago will come along soon.
Until then it is a matter of grit - for the greater good, said Jonathan who is running the phones, emails and logistics, while Tabitha Lewis spends long hours alone at the printers, to maintain social distancing.
“This is all new to us. We normally serve students, not the health industry. But as a librarian it is in our mission to help people find solutions. I think we are all just sitting around seeing the news and feeling powerless. It’s pretty unique to get to help protect people for something great as this,” Younker said.