Printing to protect: What an ODU professor is creating to help save lives

Posted at 11:42 AM, Apr 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-10 18:21:43-04

NORFOLK, Va. - It's a movement happening across the country - every day, people are rolling up their sleeves and finding new ways to help during the coronavirus pandemic.

At Old Dominion University, a unique pair of "do-ers" have put their expertise to action. They're using a 3D printer in their basement to make protective shields for healthcare workers and community members in our area.

Assistant Professor Brittany Samulski and her husband Chris each bring different skills to the table. Brittany is a faculty member at ODU in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program in the School of Rehabilitation Sciences. Chris took a different approach in life, working in business analytics at a software company.

With a 3D printer already assembled and in use in their basement they thought, "Why not print something that can help people?" They got right to work.

In just a few weeks, they have created 1,000 protective shields and piqued the interest of local hospitals like Sentara.

The shields are attached to a visor, which lessens the likelihood they will be knocked off. The visor also adds an extra layer of protection from particles floating in the air above.

"It covers everything, but you should definitely still wear eye protection and some sort of face mask. It does accommodate the depth of the N95 masks as well," Brittany says.

The desire to help grew so strong, they have created a small army of "makers" just like themselves. The group is known as #757Cares and is made up of some 60 community members who have all joined the fight to make 3D printed masks.

"We originally started this so we could protect some friends that we had, and it's now grown into something that we really want to see try and protect as many people as we can," Chris says.

To keep up with supply and demand for the protective shields, the Samulskis are taking donations, but will only use what's necessary. If they have any extra money or supplies after the pandemic, they are planning on donating them to local STEM programs.

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