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Library staff check in to 3D print shields for health workers

Wednesday, April 22, 2020   Posted in: Signatory Notice Board By: Administrator With tags: services, health, support

Christchurch City Council Newsline: 20th April 2020

Christchurch’s multi-skilled library learning team has temporarily swapped after-school programmes for 3D printers to create protective face shields for community-based groups and other frontline medical workers.

The staff move follows early recognition of the worldwide shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) components and the role of “makerspace” organisations in helping to fill the gap.

Christchurch City Council Head of Libraries and Information Carolyn Robertson says several of the technology-focused staff have put their hands up to support the ShieldsUp initiative.

“Following a nationwide online call by a 3D printer supplier for support for the initiative, our staff have taken up the challenge to help shield first responders and other health workers from COVID-19,” Ms Robertson says.

“Thanks to our excellent collaboration with Cebelio - a local company that supplies the screen components - our first batch is ready to be delivered to a group of Christchurch midwives.”

She says that other PPE options are in the pipeline, such as strap spacers that ensure face masks sit more comfortably.

“We will contribute to battling this threat to our wider community by utilising the extensive skills of our staff,” Ms Robertson says. “They have all wanted to step up during a time of great need, and the ideas and designs are certainly growing.

“Christchurch City Libraries already provides community access to new technologies and equipment such as laser cutters and 3D printers that enable rapid prototyping - helping our customers bring their individual creations to life.

“Now our staff are further utilising their ‘maker’ knowledge to help protect those amazing people fighting this deadly virus as we all take on new roles to combat the spread of COVID-19.”

Ms Robertson says library staff are very adaptable and well prepared to tackle fresh challenges, including creating components for protective gear.

The demand for face shields has soared following the COVID-19-enforced lockdown, prompting several initiatives to support and protect healthcare workers.

ShieldsUp – a volunteer project – unites a network of 3D parts makers around the country to help provide alternative PPE shields for health workers. The 3D printer operators can downloaded a free open source design to print the frame that holds the PVC or PET plastic shields.

Hundreds of orders for the shields have already flooded in from across the country.

“The library already had the technology, the knowledge and the printers, so it was an obvious at-home option for staff,” Ms Robertson says.

“It takes a couple of hours to produce each shield frame, and help create an extra layer of protection for health staff. Our protection production line is certainly powering up.”

Healthy Christchurch Champions

  • Canterbury District Health Board
  • Christchurch City Council
  • Environment Canterbury
  • Ministry of Health
  • Ngai Tahu
  • NZ Police
  • Pegasus Health
  • University of Otago, Christchurch