Red Deer College is helping to keep essential workers safe during the COVID-19 crisis through a joint effort to produce face shields.
Over the past few weeks, RDC’s Centre for Innovation in Manufacturing has worked with provincial agencies to organize a face shield project.
As a result, a trial run of 625 shields was produced within a week, including 100 made with a 3D printer at the college.
Alicia Cafferata, project co-ordinator and manager of applied research and innovation at RDC, said the centre is receiving a lot of calls about producing face shields.
For the project, the college used the online shield design made available for free by Prusa, a Czech Republic manufacturing company.
“We looked at that design. We printed one in the innovation centre and we gave it to an ER doctor at the Red Deer hospital. He tried it over a shift and he liked it,” Cafferata said.
On that recommendation, a request for proposals went out through the Alberta Additive Manufacturing Network on March 30 and six Alberta manufacturers were quickly found in Calgary and Edmonton.
She said Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre will receive about 100 shields. A few are also going locally to Revera seniors housing.
“Collaboration is definitely growing in a time like this. I’ve heard of lots of different companies working to solve the ventilator issue. There’s even some looking at replacing the N91 mask, but it’s all at a very early stage.
“Industry really does want to aid in the fight against COVID. And every industry person I have talked to, nobody is looking to profiteer off of this. They do obviously want to cover their costs, but they’re not looking to gouge.”
She said Red Deer College is looking at making an adjustment to the face shield design, and may be involved in development with a company looking at producing ventilators.
Funding for the 625 shields came from the Alberta Additive Manufacturing Network to cover the cost of production.
She said while this is not the only effort in the province to produce face shields, RDC continues to receive more requests.
“If people want more, we’ll take the six companies that said they can do this and allocate those orders out to these people,” Cafferata said.
Others in central Alberta are also putting their talents to use in the fight against COVID-19.
Karla and Curtis Royer, of Rocky Mountain House, have developed cotton face masks for the public.
Karla, a long-time seamstress who operates the home-based business Lace & Twine Custom Design, has designed a washable mask that has a removable wire to provide a closer fit.
“I just think they’ll be a lot longer lasting if they’re made well,” said Karla, who added the mask is so comfortable, “it’s like wearing sweat pants on your face.”
Recently, Alberta’s medical officer of health said it may be beneficial for people to wear a non-medical mask in public to protect those around them.
“If everyone wears one, we’re looking out for each other,” Karla said.
For more information, visit Lace & Twine Custom Design on Facebook.