Pumping out PPE: Ithaca College team prints protective gear for healthcare workers

Local News

ITHACA, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — We’ve seen many examples of people and businesses pitching in to help, Ithaca College is no different. A team there has transformed the print shop to pump out personal protective equipment for healthcare workers.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been pleading for weeks for any company capable of making PPE to step in and do it. A group of three at Ithaca College realized they could help out in a big way.

Jeff Golden, director of general services at the college, tells NewsChannel 9 that he, along with warehouse associate David Westgate and print operations manager Glen Harris, put their thoughts together.

“We started thinking, ‘Well if we print stuff why can’t we make this stuff,'” said Golden.

They figured out how to use PVC foam that normally prints college signs to instead, print face masks and shields. “The assembly is just taking a piece of foam tape and then a piece of braided elastic to hold it on,” said Golden.

Since they’re 2D printing and not 3D printing, they have the capability to pump out PPE in a high volume.

“We’re not printing them from the ground up, we’re actually cutting them out of materials down,” explained Golden. They can cut 132 visors from each sheet of PVC to print thousands of shields.

a look at the printing process, using college materials to create face shields

They’ve already sent 1,000 to Arnot Health, 1,800 to Cayuga Medical Center, and two dozen shields to the William George Agency, a nonprofit residential learning center.

The team will also be sending 1,000 face masks to the William George Agency.

Jeff Golden wearing a face mask the Ithaca College team created using fabric and PVC material

Golden says they donated the first batch of shields. As for the rest, they’ll charge $2 per shield and 75 cents per mask. It’s a way they can help keep healthcare workers safe while also keeping their printing staff employed.

“If we all learn anything from this it’s probably that we need to find ways to be a little more patient with each other, be more accepting of whatever else is going on,” said Golden. “We are all surviving this, we are all enduring this, we are all growing in this.”

The production team has grown to about six people since this project starts a few weeks ago. The print shop has been closed down to the public to keep it sterile and each person takes their temperature throughout the day and wears masks and gloves when assembling the pieces.

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