Bucks School Program Shifts To Making Coronavirus Face Shields

The Bucks County Intermediate Unit is using its seven 3D printers and laser cutter to help in the fight against COVID-19.

At most times, the Bucks County Intermediate Unit is busy delivering educational programs from school to school. Now, with schools shut down due to the new coronavirus, the agency has a new focus — making personal protection equipment for those fighting the virus.

Lindsey Sides, the intermediate unit's supervisor of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math), learned that some 3D printers were being used to make masks and other equipment for medical workers and first responders.

She started investigating and, ultimately, got intouch with a professor at Cornell University who had mobilized a team that used 3D printers to make face shields. The Cornell team was more than willing to share their design plans, specifications and instructions.

After consulting with a sister lab in New Orleans doing similar work, Sides and Megan Boletta, the Bucks IU's Fab Lab program coordinator, got started. Within a few days, they had a process finalized and a prototype ready to be approved.

On Friday, April 3, they took the prototype to be reviewed at the Bucks County Emergency Operations Center in Ivyland, where it passed with flying colors.

"We are so excited and gratified to be able to use this equipment to help protect and support those on the front lines against this COVID-19 epidemic," said Sides. "In the spirit of 'sharing it forward' we would also be happy to give our design instructions to anyone else who may have this equipment and want to help produce these as well."
Using the Fab Lab's seven 3D printers and a laser cutter, Sides and Boletta can produce more than 200 face shields a week. On Monday, they delivered the first 80 to the Bucks County emergency center to be distributed.

"Being able to produce these masks, and provide them free of charge, is an honor," said Bucks IU executive director Mark Hoffman. "We are extremely proud that our STEAM education team has taken this opportunity to find a way to support the fight against COVID-19 by helping to keep medical personnel and first responders safe."

Anyone interested in details about the team's process, or who would like to 3D-print head pieces that can be used with the shields, may contact Sides at or call her at 215-348-2940, Ext. 1460.

By Doug Gross, Patch Staff

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