Northwestern Press

Thursday, May 28, 2020

COVID-19: St. Luke’s partners with Coplay, Allentown firms to make face masks, shields

Sunday, March 29, 2020 by The Press in Focus

St. Luke’s University Health Network, Filament Innovations of Coplay and 3D manufacturer ProtoCAM of Allentown have teamed up to produce 3D printed masks and face shields for health-care providers during the the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We’ve been following the news in Europe related to medical supplies, and I knew we had to act quickly,” said Megan Augustine, Director of St. Luke’s University Health Network’s Simulation Center.

She began working with her team and the 3D printing community to custom-print N-95 respirator masks, additional masks and face shields, which are some of the highest-demand Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health-care workers.

“These masks and face shields reduce the risk of airborne transmission from an actively-sick patient to the individuals providing care,” said Kara Mascitti, MD, St. Luke’s Medical Director of Health Care Epidemiology and Infection Prevention.

“By helping keep our doctors, nurses and health-care teams safe, it helps prevent the spread to their loved ones and others,” Mascitti said.

Conservation of these supplies is critical to fighting COVID-19.

“We are about to run a supply chain logistics marathon and we are looking at creative, alternate solutions for supplies like masks,” said Augustine.

The masks being printed can be custom-fitted to an individual’s face, maximizing protection. Because of the materials with which the mask are printed, Augustine and her team are researching options for sterilization and reuse.

“Because of COVID-19, we are seeing a strain on the supply chain. We are asking ourselves, ‘How do we rethink the manufacturing of these items?,’” said Michael Gorski, PhD, MBA, owner and founder of Filament Innovations.

“This process is showing what local manufacturing can do right here in the Lehigh Valley by utilizing 3D Printing, an advanced manufacturing method. We all want to do what we can for our community,” Gorski said.

“The care of our patients is number one,” Augustine said. “This [pandemic] is a reality for all of us.

“We are working with everyone to be prepared for a potential shortage. We are always looking for innovative ways to provide care and we are doing it,” said Augustine.

Information on COVID-19 pandemic: www.sluhn.org/covid-19.