In Houston, Rice University’s Moody Center for the Arts has transformed its two-story art studio spaces into a factory for making face shields for medical workers, according to a story from Rice News. (As we reported in an article from April 6, a few other artists and organizations are coming to the aid of medical workers.) The Moody Center installed 15 additional 3D printers, which are operating at full capacity to produce the face shields. Rob Purvis, who directs the workshop and makerspace at the Moody Center, heads and supervises the workflow.
“It’s awesome to be able to turn this stuff around, and to actually provide something of real, meaningful benefit,” Purvis says. With the goal of producing 5,000 face shields, Purvis has marshaled school faculty from the civil engineering to the art department, and ramped up production as part of Rice’s campus-wide COVID-19 response. Purvis concedes that, although the center isn’t designed to be a full-on industrial production facility, the team can make between 130 to 1,400 face shields a day.
“Being able to kind of funnel everything through one group is really the main benefit,” Purvis says. “It’s Rice as a whole community providing for its city and making the right decisions with the right people.”
The Moody Center’s 5,000-square-foot fabrication facility, which includes a wood shop, metal shop, spray-paint booth and (initially) four 3D printers, came to Purvis’ mind when students left campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He knew of medical professionals’ need for personal protective equipment and wanted to help.
After successfully printing some PPE designs he found on the internet, he began researching ways of distributing the shields. A short while later he met Fred Higgs, who was part of Rice’s COVID-19 response team. The two worked together for prototyping and bringing in the company Ultimaker, who shared 15 of their 30 3D printers with the Moody Center.
“This will be over with and things will go back to normal,” Purvis says. “Hopefully, long-term, more students will be aware of this resource they have available to them and they’ll come take advantage of it.”
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