Cherry Creek schools staff, students making medical face shields using 3D printers

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AURORA | For the last week, schools all around the Cherry Creek School District have been pitching in with their printers to help the fight against the coronavirus.

The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus reached out to CCSD Superintendent Scott Siegfried and asked if the district could help out with the production of the framework for protective masks to help with the shortage that has hit medical facilities in Colorado and nationwide due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The answer was a resounding yes, and with Assistant Superintendent Sarah Grobbel at the forefront, production began with a fleet of 3D printers put to work at Cherokee Trail, Eaglecrest, Grandview and Smoky Hill high schools as well as the district’s brand new Innovation Campus.

“I think all of us from district admin on down to teachers and students are proud to be able to contribute to this effort,” said Paul Clinton, STEAM Pathway Coordinator at the Innovation Campus.

“Everybody is at home, and it’s hard to find that sense of purpose sometimes,” he added. “I know when I got the call, I was ready to go and there were 12 other teachers in the district that felt the same way. It gives an immense sense of pride for our district to be able to contribute what we can.”

The first shipment is set to go out Tuesday and will be somewhere in the range of 450 masks, which will be finished onsite by Anschutz and used on the campus or distributed to other places in need.

Clinton said teachers are going to schools in the morning and setting the printers to work on the projects, which can range from two hours to seven hours to produce and adhere to the protocols sent along by Anschutz.

“The key in 3D printing is making sure the base layers are consistent and going well, then after that you usually can leave them unattended and come back later and they’ll be done,” Clinton said.

Once they are done printing, the framework is removed from the print bed by someone wearing a mask, face shield and gloves and put in Zip-loc bags to be shipped.

On top of the in school efforts, some Smoky Hill students have 3D printers at their homes and are also working on the production according to Dan Cornell, a digital media arts instructor at the school. Cornell said the school and students working from home have just passed the 200 mark in masks produced.

Cornell made sure he let Smoky Hill principal Chuck Puga know about the good the students were doing lending a hand from home.

“Early in the week I emailed the principal telling him how proud I was of these students,” Cornell said. “These students are just awesome! They jumped in and took the lead.”

in other places around Aurora and nationally, businesses of a variety of sizes have shifted their production to shields as healthcare professionals face a major shortage.