Luke Melcher uses 3D printing skills to produce protective gear for health care workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Health care workers treating patients with COVID-19 are in need of face shields, crucial equipment to keep them safe and prevent the spread of the virus.
Luke Melcher, from Ross Township, Pa., is doing his part to help from his off-campus apartment in California, Pa.
A junior majoring in mechatronics engineering technology and robotics engineering at California University of Pennsylvania, Melcher recently produced and shipped a box of 16 face shields to the UPMC Pinnacle Health Community General Osteopathic Hospital in Harrisburg, Pa.
Melcher prints head bands for the face shields on his small Resin 3D printer from open-source files he downloaded from Prusa, a 3D printing company based in the Czech Republic.
He and his girlfriend, Tara Stevens, a junior business administration major at Cal U, use a laminator to make the plastic sheets rigid. The sheets snap onto the headbands to make the face shields.
Stevens’ sister, Tasha, works as a physical therapist assistant, and one of her patients was in the Harrisburg hospital with COVID-19.
“This was someone who is basically family that was affected by what’s going on, so I certainly wanted to help in that sense,” Melcher said. “There was an obvious need, and she was very excited for anything we could get to her and her co-workers.”
Melcher and Stevens can produce about four shields per day and are preparing another box to ship out.
He has established a GoFundMe page to help with expenses.
“I’m trying to produce as many as I can while my supplies last,” he said. “A lot of people are doing things like this, and it’s important to help hospitals and health care professionals any way we can.”
Melcher also makes a multi-functional tool that can be used to perform tasks such as opening doors and pressing buttons on ATM touch screens to keep hands clean. They are available on his Etsy page.
Once the pandemic ends, Melcher, who is the secretary of the Technology Education Association of California, will begin an engineering internship with Westinghouse Electric Company LLC, in Cranberry Township, Pa.
“The mechatronics program here is really good with a great curriculum, and the professors are really supportive, and give you the freedom to take these kinds of projects on,” he said. “I really enjoy the CAD classes where I honed my skills in designing these different parts to print out.”