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LINCOLN COUNTY — A Lincoln County school’s 3-D printers are being put to work for the benefit of local health care workers.
Noah Lambie teaches art, physics and career and technical education design at Taft 7-12 School in Lincoln City. A regular feature of his instruction is a 3-D printer, which students have used to make gears, game pieces, clocks and other items.
With schools closed by the governor to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the printers were sitting idle. Lambie noted the plea from Samaritan Health Services for equipment needed to protect medical workers from infection and saw a way the cutting-edge technology could be deployed for the greater good.
He’d seen the way the tech was being used to create personal protective equipment for health care workers around the country, and his first idea was for a replaceable cloth filter that fits in a mask frame.
“But the cloth isn’t perfect. It’s a nice temporary thing, but what it turns out they really want are these face shields to complement the cloths,” Lambie said. The 3-D printers are used to make the headbands for the shields, and the transparent guards themselves are laser cut from acetate sheets. The shields are worn over facemasks to create an extra layer of protection.
Lambie worked with local kite maker and Oregon Coast Community College teacher Lindsay Johnson to create a design adapted from other templates. Johnson has connections with the hospital, and along with Majalise Tolan, secondary teaching and learning administrator for the Lincoln County School District, they communicated with Samaritan and quickly grew a community network to funnel the badly needed equipment to local medical providers.
“We’re on our 10th one now, and we’re trying to get other teachers in the district who have printers to participate. This area is calling for about 100 of these face shields right now, but who knows how many we’re going to need, and if they’re successful like we think they will be, we can send them elsewhere, as well,” Lambie said.
The work is somewhat slow going, because although the acetate shields can be cut in about one minute, printing the headbands from hospital-grade filament takes about four hours. “That’s why getting as many 3-D printers as possible involved is key,” Lambie said.
Teachers aren’t allowed in the school right now, so he’s printing the headbands at home with the aid of Bryan Freschi, a teacher on special assignment who assists district teachers with technology. The printers were originally purchased with Siletz Tribal Charitable Trust grant funds.
Lambie said it was a natural way for him and Johnson to do their part, and it comes full circle with his everyday purpose.
“Lindsay and I got together yesterday and said the same thing at once: this is what we live for, being able to help and be creative at the same time and make something that works. It doesn’t take much, as far as creating things, to inspire us. But also, being teachers, one of the big aspects is how we can make this a learning piece,” he said.
He’s now taking time-lapse photos to demonstrate the design and printing process and will work with Freschi to produce a demonstration video.
“We’ll maybe even call on students, who we’re connecting with through Google Classroom, to see if they can be involved in the process, or at least witness it more closely,” Lambie said.