In response to the global shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) due to the COVID-19 pandemic, LSU faculty, staff, and students are joining the worldwide effort to create PPE to donate to those in need.
Chris Simon, digital fabrication laboratory manager and professor of architecture, has been 3D printing parts for face shields at home, and laser cutting parts using digital fabrication technology (while safely social distancing) to donate in Louisiana.
He has been coordinating with Dr. Dimitris E Nikitopoulos, professor of engineering, who is working with faculty on campus to construct the face shields. LSU faculty, staff, and students have organized a PPE assembly line effort in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center (PMAC), converting the space into a production facility. The interdisciplinary team created 1,600 PPE gowns in the first week, bringing together experts in different areas across campus to work on a number of projects.
Simon is a daily follower of numerous design blogs and websites, and frequently visits sites were people can upload 3D models for others to print. “A few weeks ago I started seeing a lot of talk about ways to make PPE in all those places,” he said. “Fortunately a lot of people with access to printers, lasers and CNC equipment in various departments were thinking about creating these pieces to help [across the world.]”
The shields consists of a 3D printed headband, a bottom brace, a sheet of clear plastic and a headband. “It has been adjusted subtly every day by various makers on the internet as is an open source design,” Simon explained. “We are still trying out some options so that we can decide what works best with the resources and materials we can find, and then we will start producing one kind.” Mark Shumake, Design Shop manager, has also assisted with the research and design efforts, and with laser cutting pieces using the shop’s technology.
“This is an example of the many ways faculty and staff are working together to find solutions to this global problem, and contribute here to our own community,” said Alkis Tsolakis, College of Art & Design Dean. “Think globally, act locally and vice versa.”
Simon’s research interests lie at the intersection of art, design, architecture, digital fabrication methods and how those techniques integrate into novel methods of construction.