HARTSVILLE, S.C. – The Darlington County Library System used its 3D printers to make face shields to go over masks and donated them to Carolina Pines Regional Medical Center.
“It started with a conversation three or four weeks ago with another library director talking about what we could do to help (during the coronavirus pandemic) while the library is closed to the public,” said Jimmie Epling, director of the Darlington County Library.
He discovered a need for face shields at Carolina Pines, and he and his team wasted no time putting their 3D printers to use and creating face shields for frontline staff to utilize during the COVID-1 crisis and PPE shortage.
After a couple of tries, Epling said their IT person, Antonio Fernandez, came up with a design that would work. The 3D printer prints one layer, delays during drying, then prints the next layer, Epling said. He said one design he tried proved to be too bulky.
The library system has six 3D printers, and it took approximately three hours to print one shield, Epling said.
Creating a physical replication of a digital design, Epling said he and Fernandez worked together on the project. The face shield was made in two parts, and then holes were punched in the shield to attach the headband. He said it is a very simple design and can be wiped down and sanitized to be reused to protect masks.
He said they were able to use some leftover clear plastic, which had been used for the wind tunnel program for the Summer Reading Library Program last year.
“Thanks to Antonio’s work, we were able to deliver 28 face shields to the hospital,” Epling said.
The shields were delivered on April 20.
He said the 28 face shields cost the library about $50 in materials to produce. Epling said they are able to produce more but have run out of the material.
He said the plastic is not that expensive.
Tanya Baker, director of infection prevention, said due to COVID-19 outbreak there has been limited PPE. She said the shields provided by the Darlington County Library System were needed and much appreciated.
She said the shields are especially helpful for people who wear glasses, since goggles don’t always fit properly over them.
“We were limited on face shields; they came at the perfect time,” she said.
Baker said Carolina Pines is treating COVID-19 patients and has not transferred any of its patients to other hospitals. Baker said the shields are passed out to those who work directly with COVID-19 patients.
“We do have what we need now,” Baker said. “But we will take donations.”
She said they will pass along to others in need if they have an abundance of PPE (personal protective equipment).
She said the community has been so supportive. She said the hospital has also received homemade masks. She said employees are wearing one mask a day and changing for the next day.
“We appreciate what the community has done for us,” Baker said. “Their support has been overwhelming. We greatly appreciate it.
“It is amazing how our community has come together during our time of need. So many individuals and businesses have reached out to us asking how they can help, and we are so appreciative.”
Baker has been at Carolina Pines for 24 years.