IT workers put home 3D printers to work making protective equipment

Jamie Copeland had only used his 3D printer to create knickknacks for his daughter. Now, he’s creating gear to protect health care workers.

Like many people, Jamie Copeland has a work life that looks much different than it did before the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike many, he works from home with a 3D printer humming in the background making personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers.

“It runs pretty much 24/7,” said Jamie, a data communications specialist at Norton Healthcare.

Jamie’s home 3D printer hadn’t been put to use for much more than making knickknacks for his daughter, but as the coronavirus outbreak spread and concerns about the supply of PPE grew, Jamie saw a way to help.

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“Since I’m not clinical, and therefore, not needed on the front lines, I want to do anything I can to help support those front-line workers,” Jamie said.

Searching online, Jamie found directions for creating face shields and ear savers that attach to face masks’ elastic loops to relieve pressure on the ears.

Once Norton Healthcare reviewed Jamie’s prototypes and approved them for clinical use, he and four other tech-savvy, 3D printer-owning colleagues banded together. Norton Healthcare information systems employees Brad Borders, Matt Glazier, Jessie Miller, Joe Pugh and Jamie have created hundreds of ear savers and dozens of face shields. The five have donated all the raw materials for the PPE.

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“No matter how many spools of plastic it takes, we’re going to keep going — we’re going to keep printing until they tell us to stop,” Jamie said. “At a time like this, it’s so important we all come together to help one another — that’s what it’s all about.”

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