Rockwood Director of Technical Support Services Bob Deneau has six 3D printers running in his house at any given time: three on a table in one room and three on a dresser in another. He transported the printers from temporarily closed Rockwood schools for a special project.
In less than three hours, one of those printers manufactures a piece of plastic that will help save lives.
Deneau is one member of a group of Rockwood School District staff members who are volunteering to use district 3D printers to make plastic visor-like forehead pieces that will attach to face shields for local health care professionals who are combating the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Rockwood Coordinator of STEM and Digital Learning Brian Reed said the district currently has around 20 printers in use making the face shield parts, with the capacity to produce around 200 total mask parts a week.
project, these processes will have a tremendously positive impact on our
communities, even beyond Rockwood School District," Superintendent Dr. Mark Miles said. "I look at this group of
individuals and see a variety of educational heroes helping health care heroes.
As we consider this time, we all have to band together where we’re all doing
our part to assist and support health care on the front line.”
Miles commissioned staff members to investigate how they could help after he was contacted by local health care officials.
To manufacture the parts, Rockwood staff members are programming into their printers blueprint settings certified by the National Institutes of Health. They are following sanitation guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Once they're completed and bagged, the parts will be deposited at designated checkpoints - including one at the Rockwood Administrative Annex in Eureka - and collected by Face Shield Initiative STL
, which assembles the face shields and distributes them to medical organizations.
Deneau dropped off his first installment of 16 forehead pieces Friday. Face Shield Initiative STL hopes to donate around 300 face shields per week.
in a really good position to help the helpers, especially since the virus is not peaking here yet," Reed said. "Having all of this prep work going to build up a surplus of
supplies is a really good thing."
Staff members around the district returned to their temporarily closed school buildings to retrieve 3D printers and take them to their homes to make the ambitious project possible. LaSalle Springs Middle technology teacher Cheryl Rock is running two at a time, and she has the space to add some more. Center for Creative Learning (CCL) teacher Karen Giesler started off wanting to donate PLA 3D printer filament to the cause before realizing she could run a printer herself.
So could a few of her colleagues at the CCL.
really excited about it," said Rockwood South Middle technology teacher Samantha Ericson. "I’ve been missing my students, taking care of my
kids at home and wishing I could do something to help the community. I want to help in any way I
Reed and Deneau said they could possibly configure the district's elementary school 3D printers, numbering about 25, to aid in the process as well. They are also considering accepting volunteers from the Rockwood community -- students and parents with access to 3D printers -- if they are willing to strictly follow the guidelines and protocols necessary to make such important pieces of lifesaving equipment.
"If you're someone who wants to volunteer, you don't really have to do much more than fire up your printer and start printing," Deneau said. "Then you handle everything with care, bag it and label it according to how they want it done."