When Dylan Radcliffe first got into 3D printing, it was something that complemented his undergraduate research in geography and GIS courses. As a graduate student in Sustainability Studies, Mr. Radcliffe’s research now focuses on collaborative urban conservation models, and he has evolved his use of 3D printing as a future teaching tool to complement his current work as a teaching assistant with undergraduate Geography students in GIS courses. Now, with frontline healthcare workers in critical need of supplies, Mr. Radcliffe is taking a break from the topographic maps he typically creates to print personal protective equipment (PPE).
“I got into 3D printing mostly as a hobby – and have been using it to produce topographic maps,” explains Mr. Radcliffe. “I custom built a printer that would be able to handle topographic maps – as many printers have difficulty in creating accurate models.”
It is this printer, amongst eight others, being put to work. While simultaneously preparing a final draft of his Master’s thesis, Mr. Radcliffe is overseeing the production of one face shield every 15 minutes, by gathering a group of volunteers to run 3D printers. Working collaboratively, this group creates laser-cut shields, 3D printed brackets and sewn elastic bands to be morphed into functional face shields. In just one week, Mr. Radcliffe delivered 225 face shields to Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC), and he is hoping to produce up to 2,000 in total.
Truly a community effort, there are 10 people who have come together to support this initiative. Among those enlisted to support the cause is Dwayne Collins, digital scholarship librarian with Trent’s Bata Library, who is running a printer from the Library’s visualization lab from his own home.
“We have seen several communities around the world asking the public to help produce a variety of PPE products, from gowns to hand-sanitizers,” notes Mr. Radcliffe. “Our current commitment to the PRHC is to supply them with face shields, so 100% of our effort is going towards that.”