Although the J. Murrey Atkins Library is closed because of the coronavirus (COVID-19), its Area 49 Makerspace is still up and running. Area 49, located on the second floor of the library, is using its 3-D printers to print personal protective equipment (PPE) and NIH Reviewed Surgical release bands. The face shields are worn in front of face masks so that the face masks can be used more than once. The release bands reduce pressure on the ears.
The idea to produce face shields originated when Katie Chai, a student at the Charlotte Latin School, learned there was a shortage of masks for health care workers in the community. She contacted the director of Charlotte Latin’s Fab Lab, Thomas Dubick, who gathered Charlotte Latin staff and people throughout the community to help make masks and face shields. Several UNC Charlotte faculty including associate engineering professor Terence Fagan, director of fabrication labs at the College of Arts and Architecture Alex Cabral and College of Computing and Informatics professor David Wilson all helped with the production efforts. Together they formed Charlotte MEDI (Medical Emergency Device Innovation), a group in the Charlotte community making masks for local hospitals, and started a GoFundMe to raise money towards producing masks and face shields called the #MillionMaskChallenge. The effort of the whole community coming together to fill this need is what prompted Atkins Library to join the cause.
Atkins Library’s staff was taught to sew cloth masks and 3-D print individual parts to create face shields. So far, they have printed hundreds of pieces and in combination with Charlotte MEDI, they distributed over 100,000 face shields to health care workers.