As the number of positive cases of COVID-19 in Iowa continues to increase, one Shenandoah company has stepped in to do their part to help during this crisis.
Shenandoah Pella facility engineer Jedidiah Falk said the facility in Pella begin an initiative by making face shields for its hospital. Falk said the Shenandoah and Sioux Center facilities are also producing face shields.
“They reached out to us late last week to see what we could do with the 3-D printers we’ve got down here,” said Falk. “When I was asked about it, I took it to the plant manager and he jumped on board right away.”
Falk said Pella Corporation is asking any of their facilities with 3-D printers to produce the shields to be distributed locally.
“The first round is going to go out to SMC,” said Falk. “Then there will be a separate facility the second round will go out to. Then we’re going to start giving them to the local Page and Fremont county health departments as we get them produced.”
On April 8, Falk delivered the first 100 shields to the Shenandoah Medical Center.
Falk said shields going to the health departments in Page and Fremont counties would get distributed to medical facilities as needed. He said Pella Corporation is absorbing the cost of making these shields.
“Right now, we’re looking at producing about 400 a day,” said Falk. “We’ve got about five printers down here that we’re currently running and we’re trying to get another couple going on this.”
Falk said the 3-D printers at the Shenandoah facility are generally used for low volume parts, rapid prototyping, jigs, fixtures, CNC nesting, and tool holders for work stations, among other items as they come necessary.
Falk said the design being used for the shields was downloaded from the Internet.
“So essentially what it was there was a design that was put on the Internet by someone that saw the need and designed a face shield and he put it on the Internet for free for anybody to download,” said Falk.
Falk said the Pella site was initially printing a version of a face shield that took significantly longer to print than the current design being used.
“They found this one that cut the print time down from 3 to 4 hours to less than an hour,” said Falk. “Depending on the printer, it’s varying from about 20 minutes up to an hour per part.”
Falk said the shields package better if they are not assembled, so medical facilities receiving the shields will be required to do the minor assembly.
Falk said Pella Corporation hopes to see other companies step in to help produce shields to fill the gaps caused by the coronavirus.