Engineers at Southern Arkansas University join the fight against COVID-19

Arkansas News

MAGNOLIA, Ark. (5/8/20) –The Engineering Department at Southern Arkansas University has joined the fight against the coronavirus.

It’s been particulary tough for most of our front line workers and a group of faculty in the engineering department is working behind the scenes to make sure these workers are well suited for battle.

They have begun producing face shields and ear guards for the medical professionals who are up against this pandemic. The department is using 3-D printing machines to create frames and they’ve bought transparent plastic for the shield covering.

“We have an ultimaker here that’s making one of the frames for the faceshields,” Jeffrey Sumner, engineering machinist said.

Layer by layer, the printer is designing the facial armor used to protect medical staff against those tiny respiratory droplets.

The shields don’t offer full protection but it can be used with other protective equipment as an additional layer of defense.

Initially, they thought of making face masks but the process of getting those approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration would’ve taken too long and they knew there was an urget need for the equipment.

“They’ve all been placing orders for these face shields but none of them received any orders. Everything seems to be on back order until July or August,” Dean of the College of Science and Engineering, Dr. Abdel Bachri said.

The group has donated about 250 of the shields to the Magnolia Regional Medical Center and local nursing homes. With Governor Asa Hutchinson lifting restrictions on many businesses, they’ve seen an increased need for the shields.

“Dentist job is up close and personal to their patients,” Dr. Bachri said. “With this face shied, they will feel more secure as they go about doing their jobs.”

The face shield frames are reusable and the plastic covering can easily be placed with a new one.

“You can sanitize it and put a new shield on it,” Sumner said. “It really cuts down expenses all together.”

If you have access to 3-D printing and would like to make some of these face shields or ear guards, the engineers said they’re more than happy to share any information.

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