Sixteen 3-D printers, including one from La Jolla's library, are humming 24/7 to churn out plastic parts needed to assemble 350 face shields per week that are then donated to doctors, nurses, and other essential workers at the region's main hospitals.
A partnership has been struck between the San Diego Public Library Foundation, Scripps Health, Kaiser Permanente, Sharp Healthcare, and high schools Francis Parker and The Bishop's School. The goal is to make up to 6,000 face shields to protect vital healthcare workers during the pandemic's spring surge and summer recovery.
United for Libraries, the national network of library foundations, has also just signed on to support the San Diego effort and encourage libraries nationwide to follow suit.
“Our mission is to support the libraries through philanthropy and advocacy,” said Patrick Stewart, CEO of the San Diego Public Library Foundation. “This is a public-private partnership.”
Several weeks ago, Stewart said they got a hospital call inquiring about dormant technology in the libraries, and whether it could be re-purposed to battle the pandemic.
“Someone from Francis Parker had been working on some designs for face shields,” Stewart said. “We had them down here teaching us how to use the (3-D) technology on our printers.”
“We reached out to Scripps and they were very excited about our 3-D project,” said Jennifer Seymour, an Upper School math teacher at Bishop's and a member of its Center for Creative Sciences team.
Founded in 1909 and affiliated with the Episcopal church, The Bishop’s School is an independent coeducational college preparatory day school for students countywide in grades six through 12. Francis Parker School is a college preparatory independent day school in San Diego serving students from junior kindergarten through 12th grade.
Noting a high-capacity 3-D printer can make five masks at a time, Seymour pointed out that translates, with a whole bay of printers, into “50 masks a day, 300 per week.” She added the primary beneficiaries are “Scripps and Kaiser working with the City through the mayor’s office to get them distributed to first responders, like the police Homeless Outreach Team, in other parts of the City.”
“We’re doing 300 a week at the library and Bishops is doing 100 a week,” added Stewart. “We’re also intending to do funding partnerships with SDG&E and the San Diego Foundation to keep printing face shields.”
“The libraries have been donating their extra shields to us, and we’ve been working collaboratively with the 3-D printers. It’s all about pooling resources, and ideas, to help get as many shields made as possible,” noted Seymour.
“This is an innovative way to solve a problem,” concluded Stewart. “People want to donate, even drop-off 3-D printers. We’ve put up links to the designs of different kinds of masks. If they have the printers, they have the ability to replicate.”