Program Uses 3D Printing for Health Care Workers

De Anza’s cutting-edge Design and Manufacturing Technologies program is using its 3D-printing capabilities to assist health care workers on the coronavirus front lines.

medical worker in face maskThe DMT Department is joining with a nonprofit group called Maker Nexus that is producing transparent plastic face shields, using designs vetted by medical personnel. The shields are being delivered directly to workers at local hospitals and medical offices.

Face shields are among the types of personal protective equipment that are in short supply around the country, as health workers and emergency responders care for thousands of people who are infected with the new coronavirus.

Maker Nexus has already delivered hundreds of units to workers at Bay Area medical facilities, but it has a backlog of requests for thousands more.

3D printer with plastic headbandsDe Anza’s DMT program started production work last week to make the plastic headbands that hold the transparent shields. The department is using equipment in its Additive Manufacturing Lab, including industrial 3D-printing machines and desktop 3D printers, according to Mike Appio, the department chair.

Department members – including instructors Corey Dunsky and Brandon Boulden and lab coordinator Max Gilleland – will operate the machines while closely observing health and safety protocols. These include social distancing, wearing appropriate protective equipment and regularly sterilizing all equipment and surfaces during the project.

"We know there's a critical need for this equipment,” Appio said. “We’re happy that we can use the De Anza College DMT program's equipment and skills to help with this effort."

Appio said the department has set an initial goal of producing 100 units each week. Visit to learn more about the face shield project or make a donation to support the effort.

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