3D printers at HVAMC construct face shields to fight coronavirus

Update: As of April 23, 2020, the HVAMC has produced more than 14,400 shields

The Hudson Valley Additive Manufacturing Center (HVAMC) at SUNY New Paltz is mobilized to help keep people safe as the 3D-printing industry focuses on fighting COVID-19.

The HVAMC has partnered with the local community to create 3D printed face shields that are desperately needed by healthcare workers and those on the front lines of the pandemic.

“We really wanted to help,” said Dan Freedman, dean of the School of Science & Engineering and director of the HVAMC. “All of us at the Center are people who like to solve problems and invent things. We felt that this was an opportunity to make an important contribution to a local, national and even global health issue.”

As the world grapples with COVID-19, a shortage of personal protective equipment has developed and it takes some time for mass production facilities to shift gears to meet this demand. This is where 3D printers have the advantage of being flexible. Individuals, businesses and communities with access to 3D printers are able to make many different parts with raw materials and focus on distributing to those most affected as fast as possible.

This is exactly why Ulster County reached out to Freedman for help.

The HVAMC’s Assistant Director Kat Wilson ’14g (Metal) researched 3D face shields, tweaked the design for fast printing and presented a prototype in one day. Assistant Professor of Art Aaron Nelson then optimized the print settings with the help of current student and Highland resident Rachel Eisgruber ’20 (Mechanical Engineering). The small team’s determination allowed the HVAMC to deliver its first batch of 50 face shields to Ulster County on March 23.

Now, production has increased exponentially and Freedman promises to make as many as they can. As of March 30 there are 200 face shields produced at the College each day, but he believes that number can more than double thanks to the many like-minded creators and inventors in the region.

When the HVAMC shared its prototype online, about 20 other individuals and businesses with 3D printers offered to help with distribution and manufacturing. This includes IBM, which will help with cutting the face shields.

For now, the face shields created by the HVAMC are primarily being sent to the COVID-19 mobile-testing station in Kingston, per Ulster County’s request. Some are planned for delivery at Cornerstone Family Health Care in Orange County and the eldercare facility in New Paltz, Woodland Pond.

“Some of my phlebotomists (who have to draw blood from the patients positive for the virus) tried the face shields that you created. They LOVE them and asked that I thank you personally. Keep up the good work and thank you SO MUCH for supporting our hospital with this high-tech solution.” – Terri Bostock, the Administrative Laboratory Director at ORMC in Middletown.

Thanks to generous donations from Central Hudson Gas & Electric and the NoVo Foundation, the College and HVAMC are able to provide these protective face shields for free.

“Everyone’s help is tremendously appreciated,” said Freedman. “The whole project speaks to the idea of community pitching in during difficult times. This pandemic is like nothing most of us have ever seen, and 3D printing provides a unique way of handling the crisis.”

Media coverage of the Hudson Valley Additive Manufacturing Center’s response to COVID-19:


About the Hudson Valley Additive Manufacturing Center at SUNY New Paltz
The HVAMC acts as a hub for innovation and a major production facility for companies seeking to print prototypes and manufactured items. Center staff provide expert advice on all aspects of the 3D printing process, making additive manufacturing accessible and realistic for regional businesses and community members. The Center supports the teaching of design in the arts, engineering and the College’s Digital Design and Fabrication minor by rapidly creating prototypes and consulting on materials and processes. Visit the HVAMC at SUNY New Paltz at https://www.newpaltz.edu/hvamc/ to learn more.