When it became evident that local healthcare workers were running low on personal protective equipment due to the rise of COVID-19 cases, the Lake Ridge Academy robotics team realized they could help. The team regularly uses 3D printers as part of their club and for engineering classwork. The students also were hearing from classmates whose parents were working at essential organizations and desperate for additional supplies to keep them and their families safe.
The team, along with the support of Todd Morrison, director of Lake Ridge Academy’s Institute for Engineering and Innovation, reached out within the school community to see who else might have 3D printing capabilities at home. A team of parents and students assembled to produce face shields and N-95 style face masks. The students also contacted local healthcare organizations to identify equipment needs, communicate order quantities to the printers, and hand deliver following a no-contact process.
“It’s really exciting to see the students looking for ways to use our resources to help others,” Morrison said. “It really says a lot about what kind of engineers they’re going to become.”
At the end of April, 300 face shields were produced and delivered to Hospice of the Western Reserve to be used by the nursing team delivering care to its residents. The students also delivered 25 face shields to Woodbine Product Company, a Medina-based manufacturer of hand sanitizer. Lake Ridge Academy parents work at both organizations and were happy to receive support from the students in their school community.
Sophomore Connor Spencer, a resident of Strongsville, is one of the robotics team members lending his time and resources for the effort. He said, “I am printing the headband part of the face shields. I have my 3D printer running nonstop every day and I can get about 8 bands completed within a day. It’s fairly easy to work on the masks and my schoolwork at home because all I have to do is just restart my printer every 9 hours.”
Lake Ridge parent Ed Neugebauer, a resident of North Ridgeville, has multiple 3D printers that he uses for his business, Pro-Mold, a manufacturer of memorabilia and sport card holders. He quickly responded to the call to action to help support the student’s efforts.
“We wanted to help out for a very worthy cause in a time of crisis on behalf of a great school,” he said. “Fortunately, we have a 3D printer print-farm so the amount of time needed to make the requested, relatively high, number of face shields only took about 20-25 hours.”
The robotics team is looking to help more essential service organizations in need in the local area. If your organization is in need of face shields or N95 style masks, contact Morrison at [email protected] and the team will help fulfill the request.