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Harnessing creativity, technology and teamwork, Stony Brook’s iCREATE has stepped up to address a critical need in the current coronavirus crisis: the need for protective face shields.

“Anybody who’s been paying attention to the news understands that there’s a shortage of personal protective equipment for medical personnel,” said Charlie McMahon, Interim Senior Vice President of Information Technology and Enterprise CIO for Stony Brook University.

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iCREATE Director David Ecker with a face shield.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends full face shields for medical personnel to protect both themselves and their patients. During a meeting to discuss ways to support medical personnel during the COVID-19 crisis, Judith Greiman, Chief Deputy to the President and Senior Vice President for Government and Community Relations, mentioned an upstate New York company that was printing face shields on a 3D printer.

“She knew we had the iCREATE department here, and we have 3D printing capability,” said McMahon. “She showed me the article and asked, ‘Can we do this?’”

The answer to that challenge was “yes.” However, that didn’t mean the journey wouldn’t face hurdles.

“We’re trying to make face shields to help healthcare workers,” explained David Ecker, Director of iCREATE, an area within the Division of Information Technology with stakeholders in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences; College of Business; Integration of Research, Education and Professional Development Office; and Economic Development. “The challenge was figuring out how to use the 3D printers and the parts and materials that we had on hand to really go ahead and do this. So, what do we need to do?”

As Ecker soon discovered, what he needed to do first and foremost was get creative.

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With materials now in-hand, Ecker and his team immediately went to work crafting prototypes.

“When David got back to me and said, ‘Yes, we can do that’ — and by the way, when he sent me that message he was already wearing a prototype — that was really pretty cool,” said McMahon.

When the pictures were passed around a follow-up meeting the next morning, a collective cheer went up.

“At that point we knew we were doing something positive, helping protect the health of the medical professionals that are helping the community,” he added. “Being able to be part of that is a really good feeling.”

The first step of the process is coming up with a design, which is then loaded into the 3D printers. The material is passed through, slowly building up to the finished product.

“Once the plastic parts are made, we attach the headband to fasten around the back of your head,” explained Ecker. “We then attach the foam pad and elastic.” The end result is a device that protects both medical staff and patients.

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The 3D printer turns out a face shield.

It takes about four hours for one machine to make one face shield; Stony Brook has 20 machines that can be applied to this project at any given time.

“We think we can make 40 masks or faces shields a day,” said McMahon. “We have enough material right now to make 800, and we are in the process of procuring enough material to make 5,000 more.”

“iCREATE provides these facilities and services for students and faculty to really develop the next big idea and offers ‘next level’ service and out-of-the-box thinking,” added Ecker. “It’s okay to fail, as long as you’re ‘failing forward’.”

And this creativity and “freedom to innovate,” said Ecker, is exactly what the iCREATE lab is all about.

“To be honest, I’m both excited and nervous at the same time,” admitted Ecker. “I’m nervous about being outside with what’s going on in New York State and the world, but I’m excited to make a difference and to give back, and if this is something Stony Brook can do to give back, it’s worth what we’re doing.”

— Robert Emproto



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  • This is so fantastic! If at some point you need help with assembly, please let me know. Putting together 800 masks cannot be easy. All I do is try to figure out how to make the best face masks out of cotton!

  • Hi we do similar work in Wales Swansea University UK. Please contact me we have settings on Ultimaker to speed up to 1h. 0.6mm nozzle 0.4 layer hight.

    Why did you feel you needed to cover the top opening? Prusa design leaves open. Are you concerned of the chimley effect? We need to learn from your experience as we just about to make hundreds of them and design must be safe.

    We are working on 2 designs : 1) prusa 2) budmen

    We have farms set up at homes with up to 5 printers each. Capacity to print 25-30 each farm per day.


  • […] Across the nation, university innovation centers and engineering schools began to crank out much-needed equipment and gear. Missouri State University teamed up with a local hospital in Springfield, Missouri to develop a prototype for reusable face shields. Tennessee State University was using 3D printing machines to help design and make key components for face shields. So was Stony Brook University. […]

  • This is fantastic. How can we help?
    As an SBU grad student and product designer we have no access to SBU campus anymore.
    We are sewing cotton masks at home.


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