Sobey School News
MTEI alumni innovating in 3D to help fight virus
Date Published: April 3, 2020
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kevin Gallant MTEI ’16, began making face shields for health professionals and customer service outlets through 3D printing.
Kevin Gallant is a professional engineer, entrepreneur, and an instructor and researcher with NBCC Miramichi.
“I was requested, from a few consultants and companies, to help in this request for PPE or protective gear for hospitals. For some reason, I expected this, based on my 3D printing network requests,” says Kevin.
He posted about the shields on LinkedIn and was surprised to receive over 21k views, along with comments and requests to help. “This surprised me, that people were empowered to see how something so simple for me made such a large impact. I wanted to share how volunteerism can help support health professionals or people on the front lines that need PPE.”
“I purchased a $25 face shield from a local retail store three weeks ago,” he adds. “Now I can make them for one-fifth the price, but we are trying to price it properly to cover costs, shipping and provide some incentives to volunteer 3D printer shops. Safety is a concern with any product supply chain movement.”
So how do you start making face shields? For someone who revels in technology, this part was easy: “I knew a company called PRUSA had shared a prototype design that they have perfected through dozens of prints, called the RC3.1 face shield.”
The company had gone through dozens of prototypes and two verifications with the Czech Ministry of Health. The work is shared under a license under a Creative Commons 4.0 International License.
“I downloaded the 3D print file and imported it into my own 3D printer software for Ditto-pro supported formats. This was a great design, and fit 100 clear shields perfectly.”
“I have two brands of 3D printers in my own home basement lab. These can print a face shield support in three hours each.”
Kevin used the rope skills he developed lobster fishing to tie the elastic rear backings for a comfortable fit. The backings were supplied from Anne Bracken Formals.
Kevin is now working with a supply chain to maintain over 25 3D printers in a network creating the PPE pieces. The clear shields are currently supplied, but there are plans to stamp out their own rolled sheets once the supply chain is broken.
Face shields isn’t the end of it though – he’s already working on the next way to help. “Another different COVID-19 project is our NO-touch door knob for senior facilities. This custom door knob attachment that can allow people only to use their arm or elbow to open and pull. This will help with a no touch or prevent contamination in high-touch zones.”
“As an engineer and inventor I promote community projects such as new cedar planters for food banks which have rain gutters to support self-watering leveling tanks,” says Kevin. “I’m always open to explore new projects, including sustainable and renewable technologies. I invite people who are looking for an engineer partner for their social enterprise or sustainability project to check out my video profile.”
Kevin has been teaching 3D and innovation for more than 26 years.