Shielding the Community: CSUN Creates, Donates Protective Gear for Health Care Workers
In a show of unity and collaboration, CSUN departments across campus are working together to create potentially life-saving face shields for health care workers facing the surge of COVID-19 patients in Los Angeles.
Bingbing Li, assistant professor of Manufacturing Systems Engineering and Management at CSUN, has been working hard to create face shields for an intensive care unit for COVID-19 at Barlow Respiratory Hospital in Echo Park. The unit, run by the UCLA pulmonary and critical care team, is preparing to accept COVID-19 patients from other hospitals. Li will also make face shields for Keck Medical Center of USC’s Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine (PCCSM) and Beverly Community Hospital. In total, he plans to make more than 1,500 face shields that will be donated to hospitals throughout Southern California.
To assist Li, the CSUN Library’s Creative Media Studio is donating 60 rolls of 3D printer filament, which is necessary to make face shields, and loaning him two 3D printers to increase his capacity and speed up production. The filament donation will enable him to dramatically scale up his efforts, as it provides the bulk of the raw materials for the 1,500 face shields.
The cost of the donated filament was covered by the CSUN Foundation, the Division of Student Affairs and the library’s discretionary fund.
Health care providers around the country have reported shortages of masks, gowns and other personal protective equipment (PPE).
“I know how bad this virus is,” Li said. “The face shields protect front-liners and us. That’s my motivation. Since I have these printers and supplies, I am ready to help. I’m more than happy to provide these face shields.”
Li is a board member for CSUN’s China Institute, which has worked to provide PPE including masks to hospitals throughout Los Angeles. China Institute has collaborated with the Buddhist Tzu Chi Medical Foundation to donate N95 masks, surgical masks, gloves and coveralls to PCCSM at Keck Medical Center, Barlow Respiratory Hospital, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Beverly Community Hospital, Los Angeles Police Department and Dignity Health – Northridge Hospital Medical Center.
The face shields Li is producing consist of visors with an attached shield that stretches below the chin and around the sides of the face to block contagions. Li is using 3D printers in his CSUN lab to print the face shields, which take about two hours to produce.
Before the library’s donation, Li said he had only one printer suitable to make face shields, and enough filament to make only the 50 shields for Barlow; he would have needed to wait 7-10 days for delivery of new supplies. Weimin Sun, director of the China Institute, will reach out to more hospitals in Southern California and donate the additional masks.
To continue to use his CSUN labs while most students, faculty and staff have been told to stay away from campus, Li was granted permission from department chair Behzad Bavarian and Houssam A. Toutanji, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science.
He also needed to order supplies to make the face shields, including a 3D printer extruder, filament and rubber bands to connect the shield and visor pieces. These pieces arrived mid-week.
Justin Kovalcik, the director of Library Information Technology, and Eva Cohen, who is in charge of the Creative Media Studio, helped decide which supplies the library could donate or lend, Stover said.
“I’m really happy to be partnering on this initiative with Dr. Bingbing Li in the College of Engineering and Computer Science in producing Personal Protective Equipment for healthcare workers,” said Mark Stover, CSUN library dean. “In addition, the library’s donation of filament to Dr. Li’s project would not have been possible without the support of Dr. William Watkins in Student Affairs and Dr. Rob Gunsalus of the CSUN Foundation. This collaboration allows CSUN to contribute in a meaningful way to address the current worldwide crisis.”