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Source: Massey University

Sean Rasmussen modelling one of the 3D printed face shields at home.

A Massey staff member has joined in the nationwide effort against COVID-19 and deployed Massey’s 3D printers in Auckland to create face shields for first responders and frontline workers.

Technical Services Manager Sean Rasmussen at the School of Food and Advanced Technology says he saw an article about the ShieldsUp project and decided to put Massey’s facilities to use.

ShieldsUp is a not-for-profit organisation formed by Tim Carr from Mindkits, who put out a call for people with 3D printers at home to download and start 3D printing a face shield design from Prusa Printing. People all over New Zealand have joined in producing the face shields, which give frontline health workers extra protection against COVID-19.

“We have all the resources needed to help and we’ve been able to significantly increase production on the project, and now we are now one of the ShieldsUp hubs for Auckland,” says Mr. Rasmussen.

“We are coordinating with the district health boards and anyone on the frontline with medical needs. The priority is for the people who the need it most urgently and then working down the list.”

Mr. Rasmussen says ShieldsUp has been inundated with requests for the shields. “The number of orders coming through is immense. There are over 15000 orders with an immediate need, and 20000 is what ShieldsUps want to have on hand. Massey has fielded a few 1000 orders already.”

Mr Rasmussen says the workshop at the Auckland campus has four desktop 3D printers that can print four face shields at a time, and two large SLS (Selective Laser Sintering)  machines that can each print 80 shields at once.

Their first big run of shields is in the SLS printer now, and they produced around 300 shields in the last week.

Community healthcare workers at Turaki Healthcare in Māngere wearing face shields produced by the Massey team. 

A community effort

Mr. Rasmussen says it’s a collective effort. “My wife Aida is on board contacting medical professionals and practices, and friends who have time on their hands are helping to field phone calls. It’s been a really cool story of everyone coming together and helping out.”

He is joined by workshop technicians Blair Dixon and Gabriel Phang who are able to access the workshop when they need to, one person at a time. The three are taking shifts to be on-call, and they are also looking into other solutions for medical devices.

“We’ve already delivered 20 here, 30 there, and some people are nearly in tears when they get them. They are mostly going to doctors, nurses, and some have gone to the local COVID-19 testing centre. We’ve since had other testing centres contacting us for shields.”

It’s not just staff in Auckland who are getting involved– in Manawatū, Professor of Robotics Johan Potgieter of Agritech will be running 3D printers on campus. Olaf Griewaldt from the School of Fundamental Sciences will be taking 3D printers home to operate, and staff at the Wellington School of Design are looking into how design can inform product innovation and development in areas related to the COVID-19 response. 

ShieldsUp founder Tim Carr says they are grateful to have the support of Massey: “It’s phenomenal what Massey University is doing to support the ShieldsUp initiative and it’s exceptional to see the community coming together. We would love more organisations with appropriate facilities to follow their lead and support us, and we are thankful for the help of the nearly 600 people throughout the country who have got on board so far.”

ShieldsUp are looking for more volunteers with 3D printing or laser cutting machinery, or other skills to contribute and are asking the public to support their efforts with donations.