A team that included Advanced Manufacturing master’s students Kelly Pickering, Steven Sullivan and Noah Mostow and ME research assistant professor Garrison Hommer (MS ’16, PhD ’18) printed 408 headbands for medical face shields as part of Make4Covid (make4covid.co), a coalition of Colorado manufacturers and makers working to provide health care professionals with needed personal protective equipment (PPE).

3d printed headbandMost of the headbands were fabricated on the high-end industrial printers in the Advanced Manufacturing Teaching Lab, particularly the HP Jet Fusion 580 and Stratasys F170. Additional headbands were made on the printers in the ME department’s makerspace, the Blaster Design Factory. The Advanced Manufacturing program supplied the material for the effort.

The team worked tirelessly for about six weeks to fill a critical supply gap for local health care workers. Additional help came from recent ME graduate Bradley Jesteadt, ME undergraduate Quin Guy, ME research faculty Bryan Marsh (BS ’19), ME alumna Allison Bateman (BS ’19) and Engineering and Tech Management grad student Kyle Barras. One of the challenges the team faced was coordinating shifts to run the printers while adhering to the university’s policies for distancing, lab cleanliness and record keeping.

“I am extremely proud of the efforts that this team was able to set forth,” said Kelly Pickering. “The group’s compassion for the larger Colorado community was extremely apparent.”

Garrison Hommer added, “As a few individuals, we were able to make a substantial contribution to the Make4Covid effort, thanks to the abundance of additive manufacturing resources at Mines and the financial support of the Advanced Manufacturing program.”

Finished headbands were brought to Make4Covid drop-off locations in the Denver metro area. The headbands were warehoused and then distributed as needed to local medical facilities where final face shield assembly took place.

The effort had a personal connection for Hommer, whose wife, Alexandra Skogen, is a physician assistant in the emergency rooms of two local hospitals and has been seeing COVID-19 patients regularly. “Both of the hospitals were experiencing PPE shortages, so the importance of printing PPE felt especially close to home for me,” Hommer said.

The largest takeaway from the effort for Pickering was the importance of having procedural mechanisms in place at the university level to be able to respond quickly and efficiently in times of crisis. While the pandemic brought unforeseen challenges to universities and communities across the nation, this team demonstrated the resiliency and commitment of Mines students, faculty, staff and alumni.

“Colorado School of Mines is amazingly positioned with talent and resources to be a leader in the community,” Pickering said. “In the future, having procedural standards in place will allow Mines to effectively leverage their resources (human and mechanical) and continue their leadership role.”

See the April 15, 2020, article in Mines Newsroom to learn more about Oredigger contributions to Make4Covid, including recent ME graduate Chance Reeves’ Montana masks.