Less than two months before Craig M. Berge Design Day, the university shut down facilities in response to COVID-19, and seniors found themselves scrambling to complete yearlong projects. One Interdisciplinary Capstone team didn’t have access to equipment necessary for wrapping up development of an automated 3D-printing process. But sponsor company Micro FDM enlisted the students help on a new project that built on much of the work they’d already done. The team features students from multiple engineering departments, including Shawn Dhani from SIE.
“Hey, since you’re not able to finish the project, how about we change gears and build a printer, at lightning speed, that can print face shields?” asked Erik Orwoll, co-founder of Micro FDM and industry mentor for the project.
A face shield is a thin sheet of clear plastic, attached to a headband, that acts as an extra layer of protection for health care workers by covering the wearer’s face and neck.
“Our team recognized the magnitude of this issue and decided that any footprint we could leave on the road to decreasing the number of COVID-19 cases, we were willing to do it,” said team leader Scott Bankofier.
The six students had spent most of the year developing a way to automate the 3D-printing process for Micro FDM. When a 3D printer finishes printing an object, a person typically needs to move the object aside so another item can be printed, meaning it’s not possible to do round-the-clock 3D-printing without oversight from personnel.
The team also helped design a shield that’s easier to 3D-print, enabling the setup to 3D-print four shields at a time. The first time Micro FDM printed a face shield, it took about an hour and 40 minutes, but within two weeks, the company decreased the printing time to 27 minutes. Now Micro FDM is producing 20 face shields a day and aims to increase production to 50 per day. The ultimate goal is to ship out 5,000 shields every 10 days to health care facilities.
Learn more about this team in this KGUN9 video clip.