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Academy Cares: Academy of Art University Students Create Face Shields with 3D Printers

With its entire San Francisco campus closed down for the rest of the spring semester, Academy of Art University students have all gone home or back in their dorms to continue the rest of their classes online.

Thanks to the Academy’s ready and established online education program, the students do not have to miss a beat earning their art and design degrees. This means, though, that studio and lab equipment crucial to their learning are going to be under lock and key as well while the students are away from campus.

But why let these precious machines sit idle and gathering dust when they can be put to work for a higher purpose? Like helping protect the hospital front-liners with face shields made out of 3D printers.

3D Printers being put to good use at Academy of Art University

Creative Problem-Solvers

This is precisely what Max Niehaus thought as the city of San Francisco continues to fortify its defense against the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. “We’re going to launch a call to action [to all] our 10,000 of all our Academy of Art students, many of them who have 3D printers at home,” explained Niehaus, Industrial Design Shop Manager at the School of Industrial Design, in an interview with ABC7.

ABC7News_face_shield_max niehaus
Max Niehaus, Industrial Design Shop Manager
Fast production for much needed face shields

“They can start producing the parts as well.  They’ll print them, send them to us, we will sanitize, assemble, and distribute everything to the community. “

Niehaus personally searched for the design online. Given the urgency of the situation, he chose the one that was the fastest to produce. To make sure that the specifications are up to standards, he created a prototype and sent it for assessment to doctors, nurses, and technicians at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital. As soon as they gave their seals of approval, it’s time to get it in production.

Saint Francis hospital workers tried, tested, and approved the 3D printed face shields

Heeding the Call for the Community

Now it’s up to the Academy students to heed the call to action and do their part in this project that will benefit the greater San Francisco community. The masks, which reportedly costs $2 each to produce, will also be distributed to other local workers such as police officers, firefighters, and paramedics.

100 face shields have been so far delivered to Saint Francis Memorial Hospital, with more expected to come in the following days.

Watch ABC7’s special report on Academy of Art’s face shield project below:

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