CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Engineers, doctors, and students are coming together to protect healthcare workers caring for COVID-19 patients.
Charlotte Latin School and UNC Charlotte staff and students formed Charlotte Medical Emergency Device Innovation (MEDI) to produce face shields for healthcare workers in Charlotte.
Two weeks ago, Levine Cancer Institute Medical Oncologist Dr. Jean Chai reached out to his daughter’s teacher at Charlotte Latin School, Tom Dubick, as he worried about a shortage on protective gear.
“We were watching hospitals across the world struggle with this pandemic. Honestly I was a little bit scared there were people out there working with patients and not having the protection that they needed,” Chai said.
They came up with the idea of using 3D printers to produce the face shields.
"There's a crisis and a student asked to help,” Charlotte Latin School Innovation and Design Chair Tom Dubick said.
Dubick connected with UNC Charlotte’s Associate Teaching Professor of Mechanical Engineering Terence Fagan, who stepped up right away to help those in the front lines.
“It pains me to see them without the proper gear to fight the good fight of this disease,” Fagan said.
Members of the College of Engineering, The College of arts and Architecture, and the College of Computing and Informatics helped in the 3D printing process.
Dubick said all together they produced 500 face shields.
Recently, they have started working with companies, such as Texlon Plastics Corporation, to produce more face shields.
"In a 3D printer, you can make four of these in eight hours, on injection molding you can make four of these in a minute,” Dubick said.
Bravo Team and Caro-Polymers Inc. are other companies involved in the project.
With the help of a GoFundMe page the group has been able to make the face shields, which go on top of N95 masks.
“The outpouring of love and support has been completely humbling,” Chai said.
The goal of Charlotte MEDI is to produce between 75,000 and 100,000 masks in a month.
“Imagine we have a 30-day supply of N95 masks by protecting the masks and protecting the patients, we make this supply last longer, maybe a 35-day supply becomes a 40-day supply or a 45-day supply, every little bit helps,” Chai said.
If anyone is interested in replicating the face shields the group is making, they are willing to share plans for molding and manufacturing expertise for free.
Thus far, they have received inquiries from eight different states.
If you would like to learn more or support the cause, you can visit charlottemedi.org.