CCC&TI Uses 3-D Printing Technology to Help Local Health Care Workers

HUDSON, NC (April 17, 2020) — Using equipment normally reserved for preparing students for high-tech manufacturing jobs, faculty and staff at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute are using 3-D printing technology to make face shields for local health care workers.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak CCC&TI’s campuses are currently closed to the public and all classes have been converted to online only, leaving the usually in-demand equipment dormant until students return to campus. After Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care expressed a need and provided a digital design for the face shields, faculty and staff with experience using 3-D printing technology got to work.

CCC&TI Engineering Instructor and Caldwell Applied Sciences Academy Science Teacher Freda Parker shows off one of the face shield frames made with 3-D printing technology. Once a polycarbonate sheet and a strap are added, they are ready for use by health care workers.

“We are trying to do our part to help out where we can,” CCC&TI President Dr. Mark Poarch said of the college’s response to a national shortage of personal protective equipment for health care workers. “We want to be a good community partner.”

CCC&TI engineering instructor and Caldwell Applied Sciences Academy science teacher Freda Parker is leading the effort with help from several college staff members, including Patrick Morgan, Larry Simonds and Larry Milam. Each taking several hours to produce, 3-D printers are used to build the plastic face shield frames. A sheet of polycarbonate is then cut to fit the frame and a strap is added to complete it.

CCC&TI Vice President of Instruction Randy Ledford models one of the face shields made by college faculty and staff using 3-D printing technology.

The first batch of face shields were completed this week and scheduled for delivery to Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care in Lenoir on Friday. The next batches of face shields will be delivered to Caldwell UNC Healthcare. Caldwell UNC Healthcare has requested 130 to 150 face shields.

“The plan is to deliver 10 to 15 face shields to the hospital every two days,” said Randy Ledford, CCC&TI’s Vice President of Instruction. “It will take a week to 10 days to get the order completed for the hospital.”

CCC&TI also has provided local support through two previous donations of personal protective equipment, including gowns, masks and shoe covers from the college’s supplies, to Caldwell Hospice and Palliative Care. The Caldwell Campus also hosted a community blood drive in the gym on March 27 in response to a nationwide blood shortage.