BURRILLVILLE – With the help of 3D printers both at the school and their homes, Burrillville High School engineering students have been hard at work producing face shields for local first responders.
And now, they’re asking for the public’s help to ramp up production.
Engineering teacher Andrew Aldrich began coordinating the build in early April, delivering the first 11 masks to the Harrisville Fire Department. The Bronco crew completed an order for 120 of the plastic shields, dropping another batch off to firefighters on Friday, April 10.
“We have 3D printers everywhere; at school and at home,” noted a post from the school district. “We are helping and staying at home.”
Then, the engineering team received an order for more than 200 shields. Staff at Zambarano Hospital requested another 100, and local nurses began making requests.
Supplies quickly became an issue, but Aldrich reached out to current and former BHS students, who donated printed materials. The teacher has put out an ongoing call for 1.75 mm PLA filament, used as “ink,” in the high-tech printers.
But supplies have not been the only obstacle.
“When you run these machines 24/7, stepper motors that control the movement of the extruder arm can burn out,” noted Councilor Jeremy Bailey, who has been helping to get the word out to help with the effort.
Now, local parents have started a fundraiser to raise money for maintenance of the machines.
“This fundraiser will provide a central donation place so that Mr. Aldrich and the community of engineers can continue producing materials for our town and beyond if/when needed during this crisis,” noted organizer Becca Klockers.
In the first 10 days, the GoFundMe page has brought in $1,110.
“Going over the goal is not a bad thing,” noted Bailey.
Bailey also hopes to join the production effort with his own 3-D printer, creating the re-usable plastic shields at home.
To help with the effort, community members can make a donation at https://www.gofundme.com.