MTU Made: Instructor Face Shields for Fall Semester

Exterior shot of a stone library building with evergreens and deciduous bushes in front with a bank of all windows to the left and blue sky above outside in summer.
Exterior shot of a stone library building with evergreens and deciduous bushes in front with a bank of all windows to the left and blue sky above outside in summer.
The 3D printers have been humming inside Van Pelt and Opie Library since spring 2020, part of the process of manufacturing PPE for the campus and community.
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At a pace of eight halos per hour, more than 850 face shields specifically designed for classroom instructors have been 3D printed in Van Pelt and Opie Library.

Headset compatible, adjustable and designed to direct exhalations behind instructors rather than toward students, the shields can be worn during lectures as part of Michigan Tech’s face covering requirement, effective inside all buildings and anytime six-foot physical distancing isn’t possible outdoors. The shields are based on an open-source design produced for local health care workers and first responders shortly after the pandemic began. Since then, the design has been modified several times based on faculty research and feedback. In addition to the primary consideration — the shield’s ability to redirect projected respiratory droplets — tweaks include features that enhance fit and comfort, accommodate headsets, reduce glare and improve both flexibility and strength.

“This is still an evolving design as we move ahead,” said David Holden, the library’s manager of technology and innovation and one of the masterminds behind the 3D PPE project ongoing in the library since spring 2020.

From physics (droplet measurement) to visual and performing arts (acoustics testing), departments across campus are contributing to the project. Watch the video to see how the project came together — and what’s next:

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.

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