First-year Elizabethtown College student Emily Ward has been fascinated by 3D printing since middle school. A video about using the technology to create prosthetic limbs sparked her interest and she has been researching it ever since. After purchasing her own printer in high school, she began working with 3D modeling software in her introductory engineering classes at Etown.
So Ward immediately took note of a recent video on the news in which a professor at Drexel University, Dr. Michele Marcolongo, made a call for volunteers to help print parts for plastic face shields. These shields are used by medical professionals to test and care for patients infected with the coronavirus or COVID-19.
Ward reached out to Dr. Marcolongo and was met with enthusiasm and appreciation as well as instructions on how and where to send the parts. She got to work on creating the plastic headband piece of the facemask using her personal 3D printer and to-date has shipped 20 of the parts to aid the project. Each headband is made from polylactic acid (PLA) plastic and takes roughly four hours to print. In total, Ward has spent nearly 100 hours on the project over the last two weeks. She intends to continue printing the parts as long they are still needed.
“I have always been looking for ways to do service for others and after learning about this project,” Ward said. “I thought being able to volunteer would be the least I could do at this time.”
Ward is a Stamps Scholar as well as a two-sport student-athlete studying Engineering at Etown. While she is not sure if 3D printing will be a focus of her studies and career, she is sure it will at least remain a hobby. She has also printed parts for e-NABLE the Future, a community group of individuals from all over the world who are using their 3D printers to create free 3D printed hands and arms for those in need of an upper limb assistive device. Her commitment to serving her community is the embodiment of Elizabethtown College’s motto: Educate for Service.