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Virginia community college making 3-D printed face shields for local doctors, nurses

Goal is to make 150-200 shields in next two weeks

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – The plastic headbands being made by Patrick Henry Community College may not seem all that impressive, but they could be the difference between falling victim or staying well for a doctor or nurse.

“The material we are using is ABS plastic. That is to create a part that can be as sterilized as possible to enable reuse," explained PHCC Fab Lab Coordinator Christopher Wagoner said.

There were five 3-D printers making the plastic headbands at the Fab Lab on Thursday. PHCC hopes to eventually have 12 printers making shields.

Once the headbands are made, the college’s laser cutters cut out the clear plastic shield that attaches to the head band to protect the face.

“Each mask takes about 3 and a half hours depending on the 3-D printer, but about 3 and a half hours, and the actual clear plastic actual face shield takes only a matter of minutes,” Wagoner explained.

Each complete shield costs about $1 to make.

On Thursday afternoon, the college was working on a second prototype and was working with Sovah Health to get feedback from doctors and nurses.

Sovah did not have any doctors or nurses available for comment Thursday.

In a statement to 10 News, the hospital said in part, “We are very grateful to Patrick Henry Community College for their innovative thinking in how they can assist health care workers with the production of face shields.”

The hospital encourages anyone with medical-grade supplies, like face shields, to donate them to hospitals. To donate them to Sovah Health in Martinsville, call Karen Hall at 276-666-7601 to arrange delivery.

“It makes a huge difference to know that we’re making a step forward toward maybe protecting their lives,” PHCC Community Development Coordinator Matthew Ratliff said.

He said this is a great example of just how close knit the community is.

“One of the hashtags we always use is ‘PHFamily’" said Ratliff. "We’re stepping up to reach out to others in the community and making it part of that PH family.”

If you have a 3-D printer you can make the plastic headbands yourself and donate them to the college. Contact Ratliff at mratliff@patrickhenry.edu.