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Kannapolis City Schools 3-D printing face gear for Atrium Health

Kannapolis City Schools 3-D printing face gear for Atrium Health

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KANNAPOLIS — Kannapolis City Schools has been hard at work making 3-D printed face shields and holders for Atrium Health.

Superintendent Dr. Chip Buckwell was contacted earlier this week by someone who had a family member at Atrium who was looking for face shield gear and he figured the school system had the capability of helping out.

“If we’ve got 3-D machines that can print these things we need to be working on that,” he said. 

It turns out he was right, KCS did have the ability to help and Career and Technical Education Administrator Daryle Adams knew of a specific way they could provide aid.

KCS’s CTE Program offers a Programming and Robotics class which does 3-D modeling and printing in addition to a host of other things, and it had just gotten in new 3-D printers this week.

Adams immediately took action.

“As soon as we got the email that evening, Dr. Buckwell came to us and said ‘can we do this the next day?’ And that’s when I contacted Ashlyn Ozment and another gentleman named Steve Walker because we had just purchased some brand new 3-D printers,” Adams said. “They were just sitting in boxes — well, Ashlyn had set hers up — but sitting in boxes waiting for kids.

“And it looked like a great opportunity for us to do this and (I) brought Ashlyn in, she looked it over, she looked at the schematics and said ‘this is doable.’”

Ozment and Walker got to work immediately. Over the last few days they have fired up the printers and have produced five to seven face shields and holders already.

They have started to streamline the process and are now finishing one up every five hours. They will continue to work as long as there is a need.

“If we make 10, there’s 10 more, if they make 100 there’s 100 more and we’ll make them until they say they don’t need them,” Buckwell said. 

This is a project that hits close to home for both Adams and Ozment. Adams’ wife is a physician with a medical clinic in Concord and Ozment’s husband works for Fastenal which sells face shields.

The issue for Ozment’s husband is those face shields are pretty scarce.

“They’ve been out of stock for three weeks now,” Ozment said. “Their main hubs in the U.S. have been completely out of stock (and) when they go and look at other stores such as Northern Tools, you cannot find these anywhere right now because they’re in such high demand.”

So when Ozment had the chance to help she did just that. And it worked out pretty well for her too. She teaches the CTE program’s Programming and Robotics class and was considering applying some things from the COVID-19 pandemic to her class.

“I had actually planned on kind of making this a relative problem-solving based learning activity in one of my modules in the upcoming weeks to where kids could actually design masks and they’d actually have to make the measurements to make sure it would fit someone’s face,” Ozment said. “So that was actually an idea that I had to roll out here in the next couple of weeks.”

Students love to ask the question, “When will I ever use this in life?” 

This is when you could use 3-D printing in life.

“One thing I always teach my kids is just to be innovators,” Ozment said. “And they always ask, ‘Well, what am I going to do to apply this when I’m older? How can I see what I do come to life?’ And one thing about doing 3-D modeling and design is that the students can literally craft whatever they see fit and see it come to life the second that it pops off the 3-D printer.

“And so, with that being said, I just try and instill this sense of wonder in my kids to where they can be the future engineers or designers and they can take these ideas and these innovative creations and help their community.”

Kannapolis City Schools is just one example of how people have come together across the city to help out during this current crisis.

Cannon School has also produced medical face shields to help, both KCS and Cabarrus County Schools have been providing free meals to students across the area, Pier 51 Seafood Restaurant and Gianni’s Trattoria are helping supply children with food as well.

This is a crisis that has affected every person in the area whether that be because schools or restaurants shut down or because the “stay-at-home” proclamation has every citizen currently under social distancing in their own home.

KCS is just one example of individuals stepping up and helping when they have the ability to do so.

“I’m a firm believer in the idea that the school cannot live apart from the community,” Adams said. “And if there is a need we must be able to fill in as well because there’s a partnership that must exist.

“There was a need. I always look at it as World War II where you have soldiers on the front line and they will have to be given all the resources and equipment necessary to be successful, so we see this as the same way. 

“We have doctors and nurses and radiologists and, you name it, on the front line, and we’ve got to be able to provide them with the equipment that is necessary to be successful because if they get sick and unable to perform and (if) you have high-scale labor stepping down then you’re actually risking lives of many people, countless more people, in the process.”

He continued: "I’m just glad that we’re able to use resources that we have to help the community. And I think it’s great to see when everybody comes together what can possibly be done.”

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