Libraries Helping Print Protective Gear

Amagansett Free Library has purchased a 3D printer, made possible by a grant from the Muchnic Foundation, and is working with Suffolk County Public Libraries to enlist its fleet of 3D printers to make protective gear for health care workers fighting COVID- 19.

In conjunction with the maker movement and STEAM education, many public libraries now own 3D printers for the public to learn about, use, and enjoy 3D printing in libraries allows the community to make a three-dimensional solid objects from a digital file. Printers are traditionally used in libraries for hands-on learning in order to fabricate fun trinkets or make replacement parts for a variety of objects, but the possibilities are endless.

Pieces made for personal protective equipment using 3D printers, like the one recently installed at the Amagansett Free Library. Independent/Courtesy Amagansett Free Library

Stony Brook University Hospital and other medical facilities are currently in dire need of the face shields necessary for doctors and medical staff on the front lines to protect themselves, and have called upon the public libraries of Suffolk County for help. The Suffolk Cooperative Library System set up a 3D printing farm to help further expedite this. Some of the printers are from the Suffolk County Library System, but the vast majority have come from member libraries all over Suffolk County who are donating their 3D printers and supplies, temporarily, toward the effort. Suffolk libraries are working as quickly as they can while maintaining safety measures and social distancing, to get this endeavor underway.

“Each day people on the front lines are working tirelessly and putting themselves at risk,” said Amagansett Free Library Director Lauren Nichols. “We are inspired by their efforts and grateful for their courage and sacrifice.”

In just three days the print farm went from five printers to 58.  Riverhead Central School District and Westhampton Free Library also got involved.

The donation of eight MakerBot 3D printers and 89 rolls of filament was a coordinated effort by Riverhead High School librarian Kim McGurk, Riverhead Middle School librarian Alyson Grossman, and members of the district’s technology, security, and buildings and grounds departments. All worked together to collect, do inventory and deliver the printers and filament to Stony Brook on March 30.

“As soon as the call went out for printers, we knew we needed to offer our support,” said Westhampton Free Library Director Danielle Waskiewicz. “We are a community resource, and it was imperative that we do our part to assist in the effort.”

All of the shields are being produced in conjunction with Stony Brook University’s iCreate program.

The printers are currently working in two shifts and averaging 200 printed items per day. Roger Reyes, Assistant Director Suffolk Cooperative Library System, said “every public library in Suffolk County has responded and contributed in some way.”

Once the project is complete, Amagansett’s printer will find a new home in the student space now located on the lower level of the library.

For video footage ​​of the 3D print farm at the Suffolk Cooperative Library System in Bellport, click here.

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