Pellissippi State manufactures critical personal protective equipment amid coronavirus pandemic

3D printers at MegaLab
3D printers at Pellissippi State’s MegaLab on its Strawberry Plains Campus are working around the clock to manufacture personal protective equipment for health care professionals.

Pellissippi State Community College is one of several Tennessee colleges using 3D printers to manufacture personal protective equipment that will help health care professionals caring for coronavirus patients. 

The project, announced Monday, March 23, by Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, has been underway since Saturday, March 21. By Monday afternoon, the colleges had cranked out more than 1,500 pieces of equipment including 838 headbands like the ones Pellissippi State is producing to attach to face shields. 

Health care professionals wear plastic face shields over their masks as further protection from infectious diseases while working with patients. 

Headbands made by 3D printers
Pellissippi State shipped 239 headbands, shown here, to Austin Peay State University on Tuesday, where they will be attached to transparent plastic face shields that health care professionals wear over their face masks.

“We are pleased to be a part of supporting efforts to combat this virus in our community and across the state,” said Teri Brahams, executive director for economic and workforce development for Pellissippi State. “Our ability to assist in this project is evidence of our efforts to always be on the cutting edge of technology taught in our classrooms and through Business and Community Services. This also is a perfect utilization of campus resources that would otherwise lie dormant during this period.” 

While Pellissippi State has closed its five campuses in Knox and Blount counties amid Knox County’s Safer at Home Order issued Monday, essential personnel continue to report to the MegaLab at Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Campus to keep the 3D printers working around the clock. The MegaLab, its entrance and its nearby restrooms are on a daily cleaning schedule to ensure the space remains disinfected while essential personnel are working there. 

Andy Polnicki and Todd Evans wearing headbands
MegaLab Director Andy Polnicki, left, and Workforce Solutions Director Todd Evans, right, test the headbands being manufactured on 3D printers on the Strawberry Plains Campus. These headbands will be attached to plastic face shields to protect health care workers tending to patients with infectious diseases such as COVID-19.

Pellissippi State MegaLab Director Andy Polnicki has been hard at work preparing the first shipment of 239 headbands to send to Austin Peay State University, the college that developed the prototype. Austin Peay employees will attach the headbands to transparent plastic face shields for the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, which will distribute them to health care facilities and professionals who are facing shortages of equipment. 

This is one of the projects the governor is spearheading to find new and innovative ways to serve Tennesseans during the COVID-19 crisis. To keep up with the latest news about coronavirus response at Pellissippi State, visit our website at www.pstcc.edu/coronavirus. 

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