September 4, 2020

3D Printing PPE

3D Printing PPE

PPE, personal protective equipment, is a term that has become an important part of daily life due to Covid-19 and the worldwide pandemic. Back in early April 2020, after the initial scurry to equip CPA’s Des Moines office staff to work from home, the Channel Prime Alliance management team began to wonder what CPA could do to help our local community. Stories began to break in the news showing individual citizens with 3D printers printing parts needed for face shield assembly and the idea was born.

Channel Prime Alliance has a partnership with Jabil, a US-based contract manufacturing company that also produces filaments and powders for use in 3D printing. Through this partnership, CPA provides distribution services for Jabil’s growing line of 3D printing products. This includes TPU, PETG, PC, ABS, nylon and PC/ABS. When CPA began working with Jabil, CPA purchased a 3D printer to use for training the sales team and to allow us to experiment with their products as well as make fun promotional products of our own.

At the start of the pandemic, this printer quickly found itself a new home in the garage of one of our employees. After some research and experimentation, we realized that Jabil PETg Nat was the perfect filament to produce the visor part of the face shield. This employee began running the machine around the clock to produce visors that serve as the base for a face shield. It takes approximately 90 minutes to print a single visor. After a visor is printed, a strip of polyfoam weather seal is added to the forehead area for comfort. Next a strip of elastic secures it to the wearer and a 7mil PET shield snaps onto the visor. These parts were assembled by hand thanks to various employees at CPA.

Channel Prime Alliance has produced and donated over 360 of these shields for use in our local community. Hospitals, schools, long term care facilities and nonprofit groups have all benefited from these donations. The shields are often able to be used in combination with masks to help provide another layer of protection for essential workers. We plan to continue this effort as long as there is a need in our community.