Most of the research laboratories at the University of Notre Dame have been placed in hibernation mode during the coronavirus pandemic response. However, there’s a chorus of whining, whirling and whistling emanating from the Innovation Lab at the Notre Dame IDEA Center where the latest in 3D printing technology is being utilized to meet the region’s acute health care equipment needs.
Research Associate Professor and Director of the IDEA Center Innovation Lab Matthew Leevy is coordinating a cross-functional response of Notre Dame faculty and staff to 3D print several thousand clear plastic face shields at the request of local and regional medical systems. According to Leevy, printers from multiple facilities throughout campus and the local community have been relocated to the Innovation Lab space to produce as many as 250 face shields per day. The University is donating all labor, materials and equipment used to make the shields.
“We are blessed to have the resources at Notre Dame to make an immediate impact on the needs of our local medical community,” Leevy said. “Once the word spread on campus and in the community that we were prototyping a medical face shield, many colleagues stepped up to join our effort. More than 40 machines are on temporary loan here in the Innovation Lab working on the approved shield.”
With rampant shortages of medical personal protective equipment (PPE), Leevy explained that the quality of the face shield model being produced at Notre Dame ensures that they can be cleaned, disinfected and re-used instead of having to be disposed after a single wear.
Leevy and Innovation Lab Program Manager Tony Van Avermaete have been managing the production process. Along with the Innovation Lab’s equipment and supplies, others contributing to this effort include the College of Engineering’s Chandler Nuttal, manager MakerSpace 3D Print Lab in Stinson-Remick Hall; Andrew Bartolini, assistant visiting professor; Shreya Kumar, assistant teaching professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering; Robert McLaughlin, Department of Computer Science and Engineering; Department of Art, Art History and Design’s Digital Fabrication Lab; Adam Heet, digital projects specialist in the Navari Family Center for Digital Scholarship, Hesburgh Libraries; Joe Admave, program manager from the Radiation Laboratory Machine Shop; and local 3D printers at the MakerHive in Elkhart with the assistance of Jim Spencer, Notre Dame’s education support technician in the Mendoza College of Business and equipment and assistance from Mike Pace at Purdue University Polytechnic Institute South Bend.
Leevy also credits Notre Dame Research’s Richard Billo, associate vice president for research and professor of computer science and engineering, Jessica Brookshire, senior program director in the Office of Clinical Partnerships and Nancy Nalepinski for helping to make this cross-campus collaboration successful.
“Rick has been introducing us to people from other departments that have 3D printing capabilities. Jessica has taken the lead with our donation to the St. Joseph County Unified Command to support health care facilities in our area and Nancy has been helping us procure supplies,” Leevy said. “This effort has truly been a display of teamwork from across campus, with so many people pinching in to help.”
Other individuals and organizations contributing to the project are:
- James and Teresa Thompson
- Jeremy Lugbill and Tristan Freel, Career Academy
- Lisa Checkley, lab program manager, biology
- Notre Dame Central Receiving
- Chris Owsianowski, Innovation Lab staff
Each face shield is accompanied by a custom wood coin for the recipient inscribed with the words “Notre Dame supports you” on one side and a design of Jesus with outstretched arms on the reverse. The coins are made of the recycled wood from Notre Dame Stadium bleachers that was donated by Benefactory Manufacturing and Design.
After completing initial orders for approximately 3,000 face shields, Leevy anticipates a continued effort to make additional PPE to support other health care facilities in the weeks ahead. Medical facilities in need of face shields can contact Brookshire at email@example.com.