Teacher provides 3D printing for COVID-19 shields
When Shaun Robbins joined on as a teacher last fall at Owatonna Middle School, he didn’t know he would find himself in the middle of helping out with a pandemic crisis.
Robbins has not only been forced to navigate into the waters of distance learning for students, but he’s also helping with an important community endeavor. With a dozen 3D printers at his disposal, he is cranking out face shields as fast as he can to help with the COVID-19 shield project started by Michael Beckman at Federated Insurance in Owatonna.
He started helping out four weeks ago with printing the 3D mask. Since then, Robbins has made 36 shields every day. It takes nearly five hours to print one shield. He said he sets everything up with the printers in his classroom, leaves and comes back 4 ½ hours later to do it all over again. This cycle goes on at least three times daily.
He has tried to shorten up the printing time, but he has found the quality suffers.
“I never saw myself producing something on this large of scale,” Robbins said. “It helps give me purpose.”
Robbins has even recruited his sixth grade son, Braylon, to help out with the project. “It has become a family project,” Robbins says.
When he showed up last fall, the middle school had “one very old, barely operable” 3D printer. Robbins has since added 12 new 3D printers at the school. “I didn’t know there would be a reason for it, now here it is,” he said.
Robbins said it doesn’t appear to be any let up on the demand for the shields. “I’m willing to keep going every day until we fulfill our orders,” he said.
He calls the extra work “very satisfying” in light of what is happening with the pandemic. Robbins said he likes how the community is pulling together to help supply front line workers with the tools they need to fight the deadly virus. “It feels really good to be able to turn around and give back,” he said.
There are currently 23 active 3D printers in Owatonna printing the shields, according to Beckman. He is looking for additional 3D printers to join in the effort. “The more we have available for printing, the faster we can get the materials in the hands of the community,” Beckman said.
Anyone with 3D printers available to help is asked to contact Beckman at Michael_beckman@charter.net.