District 212 faculty manufacture PPE for essential workers

This spring and summer seven teachers showed their gratitude to first responders and medical professionals by manufacturing and delivering personal protective equipment (PPE) to those in need.

As supplies depleted, healthcare professionals asked the public for help restocking PPE equipment. Leyden industrial technology and science teachers responded by using their technical skills, knowledge and experience to help replenish face shields, face masks and ear savers.

The undertaking started when Frank Holthouse, Director of Careers and Community Outreach, learned from former East principal Jason Markey that other non-profit organizations were making masks. "He connected us with a local doctor and that got the ball rolling," Holthouse says.

Holthouse, who was one of the seven teachers who made the protective equipment, says the teachers started the project in March, when it became evident PPE supplies were running low. Participants set up 3D printers in their homes, and went to work identifying crucial components like protective equipment design and appropriate filament materials.

"We sent as many copies as we could fit into our 3D printer, and printed them. The printing process is slow, about one item per hour. After that, we removed the completed parts from the printer and assembled any needed parts like elastic and clear plastic. Our 3D printers basically ran 24-7," Holthouse recalls.

The project was a success, as by mid-August Leyden teachers printed roughly 600 face shields, 300 face masks and 1000 ear savers, Holthouse says.

As for product distribution, the team started with hospitals like Gottlieb, Elmhurst and Loyola.

"Then we transitioned to long term care facilities like Villa Scalabrini, and Concord Place; and then to local first responders, like the River Grove Police, and the Franklin Park and Schiller Park Fire Departments. It was rewarding to ensure our community had what it needed to stay safe," he adds.

In addition to Holthouse, the other teachers who worked on the project are Brian Burcham, Rob Hamann, Brad Henning, Michael Matticks, Joe Ruffolo and Todd Veltman.

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