Academia Pitches in to Make PPE

Schools and universities with production capacity begin making face shields.

Schools and universities with production capacity begin making face shields.

The H-force is an alliance of Houston Community College (HCC), San Jacinto College, University of Houston at Sugar Land, makerspace TX/RX Labs, and a few others to rapidly begin producing PPE.

Schools and universities may be closed for the most part, but many with design, engineering, and manufacturing facilities are now powering up their labs, CNC machines, and 3D printers to make PPE (personal protective equipment) for doctors and nurses fighting the spread of COVID-19.

Syracuse University

In mid-March, Lynn Greenky, an assistant teaching professor in the College of Visual and Performing Arts’ (VPA) Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies, Syracuse University, saw a local news story about 3D printer manufacturer Budmen Industries, which is distributing 3D-printable headbands to make face shields.

So she reached out to her colleagues and asked if Syracuse University’s 3D-printing facilities could be put to work to produce the shields.

This reached James Fathers, VPA School of Design director, and Chris Prior, the director of fabrication shops for VPA. Then Dean Michael Speaks from the School of Architecture came on board. Eventually Tim Breen, workshop and project manager at the College of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS), joined the team, as reported by the school.

The school is using Lulzbot Taz 6, Gigiabot 3+, and Zortrax M300 printers. It estimates it can produce 60 to 90 face shields per day. The first batch was scheduled for delivery on March 26.

“Everybody is interested in figuring out ways to help and I think that we're all very lucky to have the facilities and the know-how to do what we can to help,” says Prior. “I'm just grateful to be in a position where I can help.”

3D printer maker Budmen Industries provides 3D-printable headband for making face shields. Image courtesy of Budmen Industries.


The H-Force

Yesterday, the Houston Community College (HCC) announced that San Jacinto College, University of Houston at Sugar Land, TX/RX Labs, and a few other organizations have joined forces to produce PPE. The alliance dubbed the H-Force will start producing face shields using 3D printers and also sew cloth face masks.

TX/RX Labs, a local non-profit Makerspace, has started making 3D printed face shields for Houston-area hospitals. Houston Community College's 62 3D printers will now help boost the production capacity. San Jacinto College also plans to run its 3D printers for the project, according to the H-Force's announcement.

Florida Polytechnic

At the Florida Polytechnic University, faculty, staff, and students formed a team to begin producing face shields.

“The group is using 3D printers on campus to create components for protective face shields. After the 3D-printed headbands and other pieces are done, they will be assembled at AdventHealth’s Nicholson Center and distributed to the provider’s locations throughout Central Florida,” the school announces.

Florida Polytechnic University laboratory technician Samuel de Oliveira works on a 3D printer to create components for face shields that will be used by AdventHealth clinicians as they combat COVID-19 in Central Florida. Image courtesy of Florida Polyteechnic University.

UC Irvine

At University of Irvine, an interdisciplinary team designed, tested, produced and delivered 5,000 face shields to the school's Medical Center staff within 17 days, the school announces.

“Medical staff tested the prototypes to ensure that health system requirements were met. Then full-scale production began at the University Lab Partners in UCI Beall Applied Innovation’s Cove. The manufacturing process included social distancing protocols and safe practices, such as one-person stations where students from the School of Medicine assembled the face shields distributed to their healthcare colleagues at the medical center,” the school explains.

Share This Article

Subscribe to our FREE magazine, FREE email newsletters or both!

Join over 90,000 engineering professionals who get fresh engineering news as soon as it is published.

About the Author

Kenneth Wong's avatar
Kenneth Wong

Kenneth Wong is Digital Engineering’s resident blogger and senior editor. Email him at [email protected] or share your thoughts on this article at

      Follow DE