POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - With personal protective equipment in extremely high demand, local schools are lending a hand through 3D printing.
Without students, Bingham Academy has put its 3D printers to good use, enrolling them in the fight against coronavirus.
Pre-engineering teacher George Lake said the machines, which he generally uses for manufacturing illustrations, have produced more than 30 masks and 40 face shields frames.
"I think it’s pretty neat ... I like to show the kids that, hey, that there’s stuff the high school can do to help out during times likes this," Lake said.
Over the past several weeks, Lake, running the printers out of his basement, has sent masks and shields to places such as Bingham Memorial, Alliance Home Health and Hospice and Portneuf Medical Center.
"I'll set them up at night to print three at a time and then it should run most of the night," he explained. "But, throughout the day, I'll only print one or two at a time, just in case something happens that screws it up."
The operation is essentially in Lake’s hands now, but he said his students played a role early on.
"I had all the students in my manufacturing class go out and research all the different designs that were already out there. And each of them come back with a few of them and we talked about what ones would be better for 3D printing, why and how we can get them distributed and things like that."
Though the printing process is still underway, Lake and school administrators are already looking at the future.
"Heck, if something like this happened again, what could we do better? And, of course, it’s have more printers," Lake said. "Each mask takes about four hours to print."