Local college to 3D-print medical supplies for COVID-19 fight

Coronavirus

OCEANSIDE, Calif. (CNS) – MiraCosta College could soon be manufacturing thousands of face masks, hundreds of face shields, and scores of decontamination boxes as part of a statewide effort to ramp up production of personal protective equipment in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, it announced Tuesday.

Instructors at MiraCosta College’s Technology Career Institute in Carlsbad — using the institute’s machine and engineering shops and 3D printers — have already developed prototypes and are ordering parts for hospital face shields.

Officials hope to begin manufacturing up to 100 face shields daily by the end of the week, said Linda Kurokawa, MiraCosta’s director of community education and workforce development at the college.

Prototypes of decontamination boxes that will use UV lights and sensors to disinfect various medical equipment should be completed by early next week. In addition, students in a sewing and upholstery class are being recruited to stitch up to 1,000 face masks per week using elastic bands and fabric Kurokawa purchased from a local crafts store.

“It’s going to take everyone in California to step up and do their part, and that includes us,” Kurokawa said. “It feels wonderful to be part of a community that is doing what it can to save lives.”

Face masks and face shields will be sent to Rady Children’s Hospital for distribution. The decontamination boxes will be sent to hospitals and medical centers throughout the region.

“As soon as we can get our protocols, logistics, and approvals in place, we plan on moving forward,” Kurokawa said.

The Technology Career Institute is part of the college’s community education and workforce development department and is designed to provide not- for-profit, accelerated job training in advanced manufacturing, engineering, health care, security and more.

The MiraCosta College Maker Lab at the Oceanside campus — part of the college’s design department — is equipped with seven 3D printers, and Instructional Associate Chris Boehm last week developed prototypes for a face mask, face shield and a vent splitter — which can essentially allow a single ventilator to be used for two separate patients at the same time.

As soon as he gets the go-ahead, Boehm said he plans on fabricating a number of pieces of personal protective equipment for use at local hospitals and medical centers.

“We certainly wouldn’t be able to mass produce anything, but if we could use the maker lab to make even 100 face shields or 250 vent splitters, that would be enough to perhaps save more than a few lives,” Boehm said. “I’m just so grateful MiraCosta College has an opportunity to have a positive impact on our community and it really underscores what a community college is all about.”

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