Creat’R Lab 3D-prints mask parts to protect local hospital staff
April 29, 2020

When local doctors and nurses needed more protective face shields to treat the surge of COVID-19 patients in early April, the UCR Library’s Creat’R Lab rose to the task.

Over the last four weeks, Maker Services Coordinator Ray Gonzalez has been 3D printing parts for face shields around the clock. Each piece took between two to three hours to print, depending on which 3D printer he used. On Tues., April 28, Gonzalez delivered 100 headpieces to Dr. Chiayu Chen at Riverside Community Hospital, where hospital staff assembled the face shields. Dr. Chen requested an additional 75 parts for face shields on Tues., May 5.

Chen had already been 3D printing mask parts on his own, but he asked UC Riverside’s Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) to enlist help from other campus departments in order to meet the demand more quickly. Chen’s request landed in University Librarian Steven Mandeville-Gamble’s inbox on April 3, after finding its way via Bourns College of Engineering and the Athletics department.

It was an easy “yes” for Mandeville-Gamble, who tasked the Creat’R Lab to put their three 3D printers on full-time mask-making duty for the next month. “It is the UCR Library’s small contribution to support the brave doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers treating COVID-19 patients on the front lines,” Mandeville-Gamble said.

Gonzalez added, “The Creat’R Lab is an innovative and collaborative space for the entire UCR community, no matter what discipline you are. A lot of the technologies that we have, such as the 3D printers, laser cutter, CNC machine, Virtual Reality, etc., are often viewed as ‘engineering’ equipment. However, they are very much discipline-agnostic and can be applied to any field of work. The 3D printing of face shields parts is a great example of this.”

Dr. Chen will continue to obtain updated needs assessments from Riverside Community Hospital, and the Creat’R Lab will continue to assist, as needed, Gonzalez stated.