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Diman producing face shields to protect health care workers against coronavirus

FALL RIVER - Diman Regional Vocational Technical School is putting its technology to use to help protect health care workers from the coronavirus.

Drafting teachers are designing and making personal protective equipment for those on the front lines of this fight, using the schools’ 3D printers.

“Again, silence and inaction is not in Diman’s DNA, it is our duty to help this community in any way possible,” said Diman Assistant Superintendent/Principal Andrew Rebello. “Good deeds should not fall victim to the constraints of this epidemic.”

Following up a large donation of personal protective equipment to area hospitals and first responders, the Drafting Shop at Diman is putting their advanced technology to use by making face shields. Shop instructors Mitch Sweet and Chris Padula ran prototypes of several already developed designs this week to determine the best fitting and most production worthy option.

The design chosen runs very well on the two different types of machines used in the shop. This design is able to be run two at a time in each machine and takes approximately one hour and 30 minutes.

The band works like a expandable ladies hairband, which stretches and sits across the forehead. There is no need for an elastic to hold the band in place. It uses a sheet of plastic for the shield, the kind previously used for overhead projectors. A standard three-hole punch is used to create the holes and then they are clipped into the three tabs on the band.

Sweet and Padula say they fit very well and are very comfortable, and by eliminating the elastic band, they felt that this design may be more sanitary.

Diman was also to locate hundreds of plastic sheets in a stockroom that are no longer being used by instructors.

The idea was sent to vocational schools across the state after realizing that the technology is just sitting idle during this time of crisis. Sweet and Padula feel they can produce about 20 per day using six of their eight printers. Administration will be distributing the face shields to Saint Anne’s Hospital and Charlton Memorial Hospital, who are both in need, on Monday and will be seeking out other providers in need.

“I thank our area health care providers and first responders for their courage during this time. They are on the front line of protecting our community and deserve the proper equipment to insure their own health,” said Rebello. “Diman has recognized that there is a need for PPE equipment. After our donation last week, I received over 40 calls from hospitals, nursing homes, and first responders that were in need. Unfortunately, we had already donated all of our supplies. The creation of face shields is a way we can continue to assist during this unprecedented time.”