Bucks IU’s Mobile FAB LAB Equipment Used to Produce PPE for Front Line Workers Fighting COVID-19
Instead of sitting idle while schools are not in session, the Bucks County Intermediate Unit’s (Bucks IU) Mobile FAB LAB has been producing
Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) face shields with their 3-D printers and laser cutter. Led by Dr. Lindsey Sides, Bucks IU Supervisor of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) Education, the face shields are created from designs shared with the Bucks IU by Cornell University. Once a prototype was completed and approved, production began on April 3, 2020 with the first delivery of 80 masks made to the Bucks County Emergency Management Operations Center on April 6, 2020.
At that same time, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, located in Philadelphia, reached out to Dr. Sides to see if there was any way they could possibly receive some of these face shields. As with many medical institutions during this COVID-19 pandemic, patient and staff safety is at the forefront of their concerns and being able to replenish their stock of PPE continues to be a challenge. In line with the Bucks IUs mission of serving children, Dr. Sides very quickly agreed to deliver some from the next batch being produced.
“We are so excited and gratified to be able to use this equipment to help protect and support those on the front lines against this COVID-19 epidemic,” stated Dr. Sides. In the spirit of ‘sharing it forward’ the Bucks IU team began to coordinate the sharing their design plans and the bringing together of various parties county-wide who could only produce portions of PPE, or had no distribution chain. Donations and support flooded in from all across the county.
An example of this collaborative process with the Bucks IU was with the Pennridge School District and their high school student; Matthew Genatempo. Matt had a 3D printer at home and was producing some PPE but had no way to distribute them. The school district had some additional printer equipment they could offer to put into play as well. With all parties collaborating, specific designs for equipment were refined with face shields and ear savers rapidly produced and added to the distribution chain.
“Being able to produce these masks, and provide them free of charge, is an honor,” declared Dr. Mark Hoffman, Bucks IU Executive Director. “We are extremely proud that our STEAM education team has taken this opportunity to find a way to support the fight against COVID-19 by helping to keep medical personnel and first responders safe.”