Partners pitch in for 3D face shields

Lesli Bales-SherrodFeature

Pellissippi State Community College has 3D-printed 1,700 headbands for face shields health care professionals wear to protect them from infectious diseases such as COVID-19. But Pellissippi State didn’t do it alone.


Knox County Schools’ Career Magnet Academy, Roane State Community College and Oak Ridge National Laboratory donated rolls of filament for Pellissippi State’s 3D printers. Filaments are thermoplastics that melt rather than burn when heated. Filament is fed into a 3D printer, where it is shaped and molded into a 3D object that solidifies when cooled.

CMA, a public high school located in the same building as Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Campus, donated 13 kilograms (about 13 rolls) of filament, which was used to make 400 headbands; Roane State donated 8 kilograms (about 8 rolls) of filament, which was used to make 225 headbands; and ORNL donated about 18 kilograms (about 18 rolls) of filament, which was used to make 500 headbands.

ORNL donated 18 kilograms of filament for 3D printing headbands for transparent plastic face shields.

These donations helped Pellissippi State continue making headbands for a project announced by Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee on March 23. The headbands were 3D-printed in the Pellissippi State’s MegaLab on its Strawberry Plains Campus before being inspected, boxed and shipped to Austin Peay State University, the college that developed the prototype.

There the headbands were attached to transparent face shields for the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency to distribute to health care facilities and professionals who were facing shortages of personal protective equipment during the coronavirus pandemic.

Cranking out 1,700 headbands was a massive effort to undertake with only MegaLab Director Andy Polnicki, Tim Wilson and Todd Evans of Business and Community Services, and members of the Pellissippi State Campus Police, all of whom are essential workers allowed to report to campus during the governor’s Safer at Home Order.

Lesli Bales-Sherrod does marketing and writing for Pellissippi State Community College.

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