Industrial Technology Teachers Help Print PPE

The Waukee Community School District is now part of a statewide effort to provide healthcare workers with the necessary equipment they need to fight COVID-19. The District has been asked to use its 3D printers to help produce PPE (personal protective equipment) for doctors, nurses, and other frontline workers throughout Iowa. The Waukee Community Schools Foundation is contributing to this remarkable project by providing grant money to purchase the filaments needed for printing. The Foundation also provided a classroom grant to purchase one of the 3D printers in 2019.

Andrew Hauptmann is an Industrial Technology Teacher at Timberline, and he’s coordinating the effort on behalf of the Waukee Community School District. Area515, a local makerspace, initially had the idea as a way to help out and make things better. They put out the call for 3D printers and have now set up a network of helpers who have produced a total of 2,295 face shields so far.

Here in Waukee, Hauptmann, South Middle School teacher Cole Kleinwolterink, and Prairieview teacher Jonathan Galli were granted permission by the administration to take all eight of the district’s 3D printers home with them. Waukee will be printing a key component of face shields: the bottom plastic part that keeps the shield curved. Another Iowa company is able to mass-produce the top part of the shield, and a company out east offered recycled X-ray film cut to the specs of the shield design. Hauptmann said if all of Waukee’s eight machines ran 24/7, Waukee could make roughly 400 pieces per day! When the printing is complete, the teachers will take them to a drop-off site in the Des Moines area for assembly and distribution. The Iowa Department of Education is involved in the distribution, delivering the face shields through AEAs.

Waukee School Board President Wendy Liskey stated “We are proud that our district is able to contribute to the on-going need for face shields during this pandemic by utilizing 3D printing technology within the district. Several groups are making this possible, including our Tech Ed teachers, our Waukee Community Schools Foundation and partnerships with other local school districts and organizations who have mobilized to fill this need. While our classrooms are sitting empty, our staff is involved in finding new ways to teach students and support our community.”

Hauptmann said he’s already looking forward to sharing this experience with students when everyone is finally able to return to the classroom. “This is really a remarkable lesson in production, we would never have guessed that we’d be able to contribute to the effort in this way,” Hauptmann said.