SUNY and CUNY schools producing face shields for frontline health care workers

Photos courtesy of SUNY New Paltz
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.

As New York hospitals, nursing homes and testing sites struggle with a lack of sufficient resources, the State University of New York and the City University of New York have banded together to create personal protective equipment for essential health care workers. With the help of 3D printers, campuses have created more than 2,400 face shields a day to aid in the ongoing COVID-19 battle.

Face masks and shields have become a necessity for extra protection during the state’s virus response. On April 15, Gov. Andrew Cuomo mandated all New Yorkers to wear either a face mask or covering in public when social distancing is not possible and stated that all employers need to provide essential workers with face masks. This order went into effect on Friday, April 17.

“Another part of getting to the new normal is continuing to stop the spread of the virus, and to do that I am issuing an Executive Order that says all people in public must wear a mask or face covering,” Cuomo said. 

3D printers are able to create three-dimensional pieces from computer-aided design. According to the Department of Energy, the complex process is similar to that of a glue gun where material is heated and then extruded through the print nozzle. 

The 3D printing is taking place at 18 SUNY campuses and six CUNY campuses. This includes University at Albany, University at Buffalo, New Paltz, Plattsburgh, Potsdam, Stony Brook University, The City College of New York, Bronx Community College, Queensborough Community College, and more. 

Manufacturing is expected to increase as more campuses receive the raw material used for the production of the face shields.

“Across the SUNY system, our talented faculty and students are using their time, energy, and ingenuity to make a significant contribution to our battle against COVID-19; and the production of protective gear for health care professionals, including those at SUNY’s three hospitals, is one measure,” said SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson.

The face shields and equipment will be donated to medical teams across New York who are working frontline against COVID-19 and it’s spiraling case count.. In New York alone, there are currently more than 240,000 confirmed cases. 

As 3D printing advances at more colleges and universities, New York can expect to see further development of personal protective equipment.

“In times of crisis, integral New York City institutions like CUNY have a moral imperative and a social responsibility to mobilize their full resources in the service of those who need it most,” said Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez. “CUNY is harnessing its powers of innovation to supplement the city’s PPE supply chain and aid the brave health care workers who are putting their lives on the line. 

“There is no greater cause at the moment, and we are proud to stand with New York City and do what we can to help those on the front lines of the war against COVID-19.”