District 214, Harper College making face shields for health care workers
Northwest Suburban High School District 214, Harper College and other community partners are working together to produce much-needed personal protective equipment for hospital personnel and volunteers assisting public safety workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The full-face protective shields being assembled at the schools will provide protection, for instance, to those working in food pantries or drive-up testing sites, officials said.
The organizers say they are on track to produce 100 or more shields per day and 3,000 in the next three weeks, with an eventual goal of producing 5,000. They say it will help preserve and stretch the scarce supply of higher-grade, higher-spec shields needed by front-line medical workers and first responders.
"I'm proud that Harper College can contribute to such an important mission," Harper College Makerspace Manager Jeff Moy said in a news release. "It's remarkable how passionate everyone is and how quickly we mobilized to find innovative solutions to help protect the people who are working on the front lines in our community."
The idea started with District 214 school board President Dan Petro, who thought that the schools' technology and innovation labs -- especially those equipped with 3-D printers -- might be able to produce equipment to fill the PPE shortage.
Moy, along with Wheeling High School Principal Jerry Cook and Buffalo Grove High School Principal Jeff Wardle, studied prototypes, consulted with Buffalo Grove Fire Chief Mike Baker and enlisted the help of their sheltering-at-home staff to test several options for sturdiness, durability and comfort, according to District 214 officials.
They decided that Harper would provide the laser-cut plastic face shield, and District 214 would produce the 3-D printed headband, based off a design from Prusa Research in the Czech Republic. While Moy redesigned the visor to improve some design aspects, five District 214 teachers tested the district's 3-D printers, worked on programming and production protocols and identified one printer type that proved best suited for the work, officials said.
State Sen. Ann Gillespie of Arlington Heights helped acquire additional 3-D printers and supplies, and Jeff Zonsius, manager of Elk Grove Village-based Total Plastics, also provided some hard-to-find clear plastic for the project. Swiss Precision Machining and Avenues to Independence in Wheeling donated boxes to pack the shields in.