Partnerships help Pellissippi State produce personal protective equipment on 3D printers

Man in orange shirt carrying box
Jesse Smith of ORNL delivers filament to Pellissippi State Community College. ORNL is one of the partners who donated filament to Pellissippi State’s MegaLab for 3D printing personal protective equipment.

Pellissippi State Community College recently 3D-printed 1,700 headbands for face shields health care professionals wear to protect them from infectious diseases such as Covid-19. But Pellissippi State didn’t do it alone. 

Knox County Schools’ Career Magnet Academy, Roane State Community College and Oak Ridge National Laboratory donated rolls of filament for Pellissippi State’s 3D printers. Filaments are thermoplastics that melt rather than burn when heated. Filament is fed into a 3D printer, where it is shaped and molded into a 3D object that solidifies when cooled. 

CMA, a public high school located in the same building as Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Campus, donated 13 kilograms (about 13 rolls) of filament, which was used to make 400 headbands; Roane State donated kilograms (about 8 rolls) of filament, which was used to make 225 headbands; and ORNL donated about 18 kilograms (about 18 rolls) of filamentwhich was used to make 500 headbands. 

These donations helped Pellissippi State continue making headbands for a project announced by Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee on March 23. The headbands were 3D-printed in the Pellissippi State’s MegaLab on its Strawberry Plains Campus before being inspected, boxed and shipped to Austin Peay State University, the college that developed the prototype.  

There the headbands were attached to transparent face shields for the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency to distribute to health care facilities and professionals who were facing shortages of personal protective equipment during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Cranking out 1,700 headbands was a massive effort to undertake with only MegaLab Director Andy PolnickiTim Wilson and Todd Evans of Business and Community Services, and members of the Pellissippi State Campus Police, all of whom are essential workers allowed to report to campus during the governor’s Safer at Home Order. 

Rolls of filament
ORNL donated 18 kilograms of filament to Pellissippi State Community College to help its MegaLab continue 3D printing headbands for transparent plastic face shields.

We built the printer space in the MegaLab less than six months ago,” Polnicki said. It was intended to support summer camps in 3D printing, to provide a Maker Space for CMA and Pellissippi State students and to offer an Additive Manufacturing class for our Engineering students. I would have never expected the space to become a production area run by our police force and myself. 

Each of the MegaLab’s 3D printers produced more than 140 headbands – likely more printing time than most printers see in a lifetime of use,” Polnicki noted. More than 56 rolls of filament were consumed by the project.  

We are thankful for our employees and for community partners like CMARoane State and ORNL that contributed to this monumental project,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. “In times like these, we are reminded how much we can accomplish when we work together for the greater good.” 

Learn more about the headband project at http://tiny.cc/nycpmzFor more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400. 

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