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Our local health authority has a shortage of protective face shields as they gear-up for COVID-19, and a local partnership that includes UBCO has answered the call.
The plan is to churn-out close to 4000 shields before the normal supply chains can fill the need.
UBCO has taken a lead role, but the project also involves Okanagan College, the Okanagan Regional Library and Dallas Rodier, a Kelowna resident with a keen interest in finding a printable solution to PPE shortages. That group has brought in a team of individuals willing to offered-up the use of their own 3-D printers to get the job done.
"We found all these pockets of makers within the community that were already starting to create the same kind of thing that we were looking to do," said makerspaceUBCO manager Courtnee Chulo. "We thought, maybe we can help gather these people."
Chulo credits Rodier for getting the initial prototype to Interior Health. "Each printer prints two pieces of headbands at a time and it takes about three hours each, so it really is little bit of a slow process," she explained. "So what we've done is we've organized into what we call the Okanagan Makers Alliance and that is the joining of all of those groups."
UBCO Engineering Professor Ray Taheri said the goal is to produce 4000 of them. "The only way we can accomplish that is we work non-stop," he said. "Hopefully we will meet the mandate, we are doing our best. So far I think we are in the stage of 600," added Taheri. "It's going to be a long journey, but when there is a will there is a way."
UBCO has about 15 3-D printers on the job, Okanagan College has about 11, and the Okanagan Regional Library has four on the job.
Chulo said they're looking forward to the first delivery of shields tomorrow. "Just hearing from healthcare workers popping up on our public Facebook group asking when they can be delivered because they're hoping for them, it's really exciting for us."
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