Working from Home to Protect Doctors

Bosco Tech IDEA tech students use 3-D technology to produce face shields for medical workers
By PETER LATHAM, Weekendr Staff Writer
Published on Apr 9, 2020

If necessity is the mother of invention, she has raised a new brood in Pasadena. 

Using the school’s own 3-D printers, students in Bosco Tech’s Integrated Design, Engineering & Art (IDEA) technology program have designed and produced nearly a dozen face shields for medical workers potentially exposed to COVID-19 in their daily work.

The high school students have already created 10 shields from senior Alejandro Pina’s own design, and are now working to produce several hundred more for the local medical community. 

“Our students wanted to do something,” said  IDEA Chairman Luis Garza. “They have advanced skills for high school students and access to rapid prototype technology. It was a natural fit for them to use what they know to help.”

After Pina’s design was refined, classmate Maverick Henry printed and cut the shield components on a computer numerical control (CNC) router,  a computer-controlled cutting machine. 

The basic idea for creating face shields was born within Garza’s own family. His sister, Dr. Judy Garza, a pediatric rheumatology specialist,  shared her concern for the shortage with him.  He then discussed it with his students, who—while currently engaged in distance learning—went to work immediately.

“These kids produced something amazing while working safely and practicing social distancing,” said Garza.

And, just to add a personal touch, each shield is inscribed with a message of gratitude from the school to the doctor or nurse for whom it was produced.

With the proper amount of materials, said Garza, the project can continue indefinitely, and based on recent reports, just might need to.

“We’re only limited by the amount of PLA, or polylactic acid we have,” said Garza. 

PLA, which is biodegradable, is made from renewable resources such as corn starch or sugar cane. It is often used as a substitute for petroleum-based plastics polyethene terephthalate. In the packaging industry, PLA plastics are often used for plastic films and food containers.

“We’d like to produce many more face shields and are asking alumni and friends to consider donating or sharing supplies,” said Garza.

More information about the project is available by contacting Luis Garza at Donations may be made by clicking here. Medical facilities interested in obtaining face shields may click here

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