Through the use of 3D printers, EG residents are creating vital protective gear for front line workers.

By Andrew Belfry

Mike Shunney making face shield components from home, using a 3D printer and other devices.

Could you make your own face shields if you had to?

That was the question Michael Shunney, East Greenwich resident and Industrial Technology teacher at West Warwick High School, put to his students in a distance-learning assignment. The overwhelming response was yes.

With the help of four students using 3D printing machines running out of their homes the team is fabricating face shields for front-line health and safety workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic. The face shields are fabricated using a combination of open-source print files and student modifications to fit the needs of the equipment they are using.   

“My students and I had two choices,” Shunney said. “We either sit by and do nothing or we just try and make a difference. Hopefully we help some people.”

In addition to his students, residents all over Rhode Island have joined Shunney’s “Rhode Island COVID-19 3D Printing Team” and are printing parts for face shields and sharing information regarding the printing process. The team has already created and distributed 126 face shields to front-line workers, including police officers, firefighters and nurses. 

“Everyone decided to do a little bit extra in their daily activity just to make a difference for someone else that they will never see,” Shunney said of the group.

One such group is a team of EG 14-year-old twins, Bobby and Quentin Sloan, with the help of their father Stephan and sister Ellie, who are attaching little packs of gummy bears to the shields they donate as a way of saying thank you to those on the front line.

“We noticed there was a shortage and wanted to help out,” said Bobby. “It feels great to help out with the group and help give materials to those who need it.”

The equipment the Sloans are using out of their own home makes parts for up to eight face shields every 11 hours. Most recently, the team connected shield parts made by Steve Garneau, Technology Education teacher at Archie R. Cole Middle School, and donated them to the Women & Infants medical office in East Greenwich.

“It feels good to create something to help other people,” said Quentin. “Especially in this time of need and it’s just a good feeling to know that you helped out.”

With more people joining the team, including people Shunney has never met as wells several members of his own family, Shunney admits to being humbled at the generosity of Rhode Islanders who are getting involved. 

“I’m wondering if they are as proud of themselves as I am of what they took on,” he said of the COVID-19 Printing Team. “Because they all could have said no.”

The Shunney family production crew.

Logan Shunney gives Jeannine Connolly, MD Ob-Gyn, a box of face shields at the Women and Infants office in EG.


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