CAC students use 3D printers to help medical personnel on the COVID-19 frontlines

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Stories of hope and inspiration continue to emerge within our Diocesan community, as the students and teachers at Coomera Anglican College play their part by producing potentially lifesaving personal protective equipment for Queensland Health workers

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Students and teachers at Coomera Anglican College have stepped up to the mark to help their community in its hour of need amidst COVID-19’s challenges by making desperately needed protective equipment for the state’s frontline medical staff.

The biofabrication unit at Brisbane’s Metro North Hospital and Health Service put out a community SOS late last month, as they scrambled for protective equipment for Queensland nurses and doctors – most notably 3000 face shield headbands, which were needed within a three-week timeframe.

The hope was that people who owned 3D printers would be able to help fulfil this need – and the Coomera Anglican College (CAC) community responded swiftly to the challenge.

The 3D printers at Coomera Anglican College produced 200 face shield headbands in just five days

CAC Technologies and Innovation Specialist Beth Claydon said that the whole process was achievable and openly welcomed by everyone at Coomera Anglican College.

“We jumped at the opportunity to be able to print as many as we possibly could to support our health workers…and the students were very willing to get on board as well,” Mrs Claydon said.

“The design file was created by University of Melbourne MSD Robotics Unit and disseminated by Metro North Health and Hospital Service. The file to make the face shield headbands was downloaded from the Internet and then sent to our 3D printers.

“It has been taking each printer around half an hour to print one headband.

“When the print is finished, we collect it with gloves and place it in a plastic bag, as aseptically as possible to prevent any transfer of germs or infection.

“This is then posted off to the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital. There are all sorts of people and companies around Queensland who are taking this opportunity to help…and it is so great to see everyone working together.”

The 3D printers are located throughout CAC, including in the Primary School innovative learning hub, called ‘The Pod’, which quickly attracted a team of young helpers.

The school dedicated all of its 3D printers to the task before the Easter break and produced 200 face shield headbands. With the collective community effort, the Queensland Health deadline of three weeks for the PPE equipment was reached in just five days.

For eight-year-old student Grace Coombs, the project was especially personal, with both of her parents frontline health workers.

”I think it’s really good that the school and the students and teachers are helping to print 3D masks for the doctors and nurses to keep them safe from the coronavirus,” Grace said.

Teacher Beth Claydon and student Grace Coombs, 8, show off one of the finished face shields

CAC Principal Mark Sly said that he was delighted to see the school embrace a real-world challenge.

“It is wonderful for our younger students at the college to know that what they learn about each day in their technology lessons is something that is actually going towards solving a problem and keeping health workers safe,” Dr Sly said.

The Coomera Anglican College 3D project was featured on Channel 9 news on Sunday 5 April, with the story showing on Gold Coast and Brisbane news bulletins – shining a light on the innovative efforts of CAC’s teachers and students.

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