man trying on face shield
V.E.T.S. Program Director Richard Jones tries on a face shield with a 3D-printed headband.

The University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu is assisting with the COVID-19 response with the help of 3D printers at the campus’ Veterans Empowered Through Stem (V.E.T.S.) lab.

Richard Jones, V.E.T.S. program director and associate professor of science education at UH West Oʻahu, is collaborating with faculty, staff, students and community partners to create 3D-printed face shield headbands and face masks in an effort to address a shortage and need for personal protective equipment (PPE) for Oʻahu’s front line medical workers.

“I think we are aware of the dire need for PPE and when the call came out to help, we were more than happy to lend our machines and our design expertise to this project,” Jones said. “I think that everyone wants to help and we have the ability to contribute.”

Jones said the endeavor originated on March 23, when Assistant Professor of Mathematics Kamuela Yong sent an email to the mathematics, natural and health sciences division with a link to a PPE printing project at UCLA.

“He basically let everyone know that we had 3D printers here at UH West Oʻahu and said we could help,” Jones said. After that, Ricardo Custodio, associate professor of health sciences, reached beyond campus and contacted his colleagues at The Queen’s Medical Center–West Oʻahu.

Printing for protection

3 D printer
A V.E.T.S. lab 3D printer creates a headband, which will be used for a face shield.

As of March 31, UH West Oʻahu has provided The Queen’s Medical Center–West Oʻahu with three different designs of PPE, including one N95 facsimile face mask, 12 UCLA face shield headbands in two different sizes, and two different versions of a another model face shield headband. Jones said Queen’s West is evaluating various designs and will let UH West Oʻahu know which designs are preferred and how many are needed.

Professor Jason Levy has also been working on a suitable design for the 3D face shield, editing the original design that came from UCLA. UH West Oʻahu’s V.E.T.S.. lab has nearly one dozen 3D printers, with about eight of them actively printing PPE parts.

In addition to the 3D printer products being created in the V.E.T.S.. lab, UH West Oʻahu is finding other ways to help with the need for PPE. By March 27, UH West Oʻahu had donated three dozen pairs of protective eye covers/safety goggles and loaned out a UV sanitizing cabinet for goggles and safety glasses.

Read more about UH West Oʻahu’s efforts at E Kamakani Hou.

—By Zenaida S. Arvman