San Diego library’s 3D printers in use to make supplies for health care workers

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) — The city of San Diego showcased an initiative Thursday to manufacture personal protective equipment via 3D printers at the San Diego Central Library, which city leaders hope will help address widespread shortages of protective equipment for local medical workers.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said a dozen of the downtown library’s 3D printers are being used to print face shields for local hospitals.

The printers can collectively produce about 50 face shields per day at a time when they are at a premium.

While the library remains closed to the public per local public health orders, its infrastructure is being utilized as part of Faulconer’s order issued last week making all city properties available for COVID-19-related uses.

“Our community cannot afford to have our medical staff compromised,” Faulconer said. “These face shields are very important. They provide an additional barrier to keep medical staff safe while they are on the front lines.”

Faulconer said each shield takes about two hours to print from materials that cost about $2.50. The San Diego Public Library Foundation, which is funding the project, has also committed to purchasing an additional three printers to increase production.

Hospitals and other healthcare providers will receive the shields free of charge, Faulconer said.

Scripps Health President and CEO Chris Van Gorder said these kinds of face shields are “almost impossible to get right now” due to a variety of factors, including a lack of raw materials needed to produce them. In addition, the shields are not conducive for re-use due to a concern of spreading COVID- 19, meaning “most of them can be used once and have to be thrown out.”

The mayor said the concept was born out of a “unique partnership” between local schools, healthcare organizations and libraries, which started when Francis Parker science teacher Denver Guess reached out to a former student’s parent, who worked for Scripps.

“A lot of San Diegans have come together to make this a reality,” Faulconer said. “This partnership is going to save lives, truly.”

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