3D Printing Fills a Need for PPE

The orange band of this face shield was made using a 3D printer.

When you print something, it is most likely an assignment printed on paper. But did you know you can also “print” shoes, jewelry, and even parts of a house using a 3D printer? This type of printing can be used to make almost anything.

Recently, people began using 3D printers to make personal protective equipment for medical workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gloves, masks, and face shields are known as PPE (personal protective equipment). Medical workers need PPE to stay safe while taking care of sick patients. However, many hospitals don’t have enough of this protective equipment.

Ordinary people are doing an extraordinary thing with their 3D printers!  People all over the world are using 3D printers to quickly make PPE. They are donating these much-needed supplies to hospitals. The band of a face shield (like the orange one in the photo above) can be made using a 3D printer. The band is attached to a piece of thin transparent plastic. An elastic band holds the face shield in place!

Computers help people design 3D objects.

How Does 3D Printing Work?

To make something with a 3D printer, you first have to make a blueprint. A blueprint is a plan to show how something is made. Most blueprints are made using a computer. Blueprints for 3D objects are always made using a computer! The computer program slices the model into very thin horizontal layers. This data is sent to the 3D printer.

A nozzle squeezes out liquid plastic in the pattern it’s told to by the computer. The plastic instantly cools. Then the nozzle raises up just enough to add the next layer. The 3D printer adds layer on top of layer until the object is finished.

What Do You Think? What would you make with a 3D printer to help your community?

Photo Credit: (t)Lucie Peclova/Shutterstock, (b)scanrail/iStock/Getty Images