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Family helping family in this time of crisis

How MSU Denver employees are helping to solve urgent community-health problems.

By Robert Park, Ph.D., Lockheed Martin endowed director, Advanced Manufacturing Sciences Institute

April 7, 2020

Karen Cape wearing protective face shield.Jason Butler, laboratory coordinator and affiliate faculty member, works in Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Advanced Manufacturing Science Institute. His wife, Karen Cape, is a hardworking Maternal Fetal Care Unit nurse at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

Like so many medical professionals at this time of crisis, Cape and her fellow nurses are quickly adapting to new protocols regarding how long they can use certain personal protective equipment, which is placing additional stress on the system. Under the new protocol, providers must wear a full-face shield in addition to a facemask when they are interfacing with patients.

Butler discussed this full-face-shield protocol with the AMSI team, prompting the group to dedicate its full laboratory resources to helping alleviate the supply shortfall. Initially, the plan is to support providers within the Maternal Fetal Care Unit, expanding into other departments and facilities as manufacturing capabilities and funding allow.

The AMSI has a strong collaborative relationship with the Stratasys Co., a leading manufacturer of 3D-printing machines. Stratasys generously provided the AMSI team with a design for the visor component as well as a template for the transparent-shield component using 0.02-inch-thick polycarbonate sheet material.

Face shield components.The team quickly set to work utilizing the AMSI’s production-grade, state-of-the-art Stratasys Fortus 900 3D printer in the AMSI’s Lockheed Martin Additive Manufacturing laboratory. The large building capacity of the machine allows the team to manufacture around 90 fully assembled face shields per week. Cape served as the team’s guinea pig, testing the prototypes during her shifts. She reported that the face shield is a definite success. Consequently, the AMSI team will provide Children’s Hospital Colorado with the first complete batch of 18 face shields before extending the shields to more facilities in need.

The AMSI team offers many thanks to the MSU Denver Administration team — under the leadership of President Janine Davidson, Ph.D., and Larry Sampler, vice president for Administration and Finance, chief operating officer — which granted the team special access to the Aerospace and Engineering Sciences Building during the campus closure.

Robert Park, Ph.D., Lockheed Martin endowed director, AMSI, added, “I am also very proud of my colleagues, both staff and faculty, associated with MSU Denver’s engineering and industrial-design departments for their outstanding efforts to supply PPE items and critical ventilator components to our community.”

Topics: Aerospace, AES Building, Community, Excellence, Health

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