3D Printing Making a Difference During COVID-19
By Samantha Anastasiou, Contributing Writer
Under usual circumstances, Gettysburg College’s newly expanded Innovation and Creativity Lab (ICL) allows students to actively partake in creative exploration with technological equipment, including a 3D printer. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, ICL Director Josh Wagner has dedicated his 3D printing capabilities within the lab to crafting face shields and tension relief bands to help meet the increased global demand for these medical supplies.
In response to recent events, Wagner wished to find a way to help. First, he figured out what first responders needed—masks, particularly the N95 mask. Doctors working long hours said other masks dug into their ears, causing much discomfort. With his four 3D printers, Wagner made face shields and tension relief bands to combat those problems.
“It’s great to not feel helpless in this situation and not think you can make an impact. This is a tangible way to fight coronavirus,” Wagner said.
Once Wagner’s supplies had been clinically tested, they were distributed to Wellspan emergency services in Gettysburg and throughout Adams County. The materials are reusable as they can be disinfected. Wagner expanded his capacity to create by acquiring ten 3D printers from the college, originally intended for a summer program for high-schoolers that has since been cancelled. Each printer takes about thirty minutes to produce one face shield, a rate at which Wagner is able to generate a substantial amount of product.
Wagner, along with Director of Education Technology Eric Remy, wish to further extend this project to benefit more of the community. They have been in contact with alumni who identify the needs of Pennsylvanians and connect them with people who can provide the materials.
The ICL hopes to foster creativity at the forefront of technological modernization. Although we have been removed from campus for the foreseeable future, Wagner continues to put his innovative resources to use.
The lab, normally open 24/7 in the West Building, typically invites students to pop in whenever they would like to be trained to use the machinery. Many classes frequent the ICL for activities implementing “outside the box” thinking. For instance, an education class inspired one student to make chess pieces with Tinkercad, the 3D printer software. In addition, an art student laser-cut stencils for a painting project.
“The whole point of a lab is to have a place people can play and make things in a collaborative environment,” Wagner said.