Sheridan College students in several academic programs already utilized 3D printers as part of their learning experience prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, those same printers, along with a new Stratasys F170 Industrial 3D Printer and materials donated by Whitney Benefits Foundation, are part of the local effort to create personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers.
Whitney Benefits Foundation Board of Directors decided to make the donation after they learned the college had been asked to partner with local entities to produce PPE but were lacking enough printers and needed materials to meet the demand. The total gift is approximately $28,000.
“The generous nature of the people in Sheridan County is extraordinary, and we see this as a win-win,” said Whitney Benefits President Roy Garber. “This gift will immediately be put to use helping to create much-needed equipment for those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Long term, however, this gift will be used by engineering, art, computer-aided drafting and machine tool students at Sheridan College for years to come.”
As the idea of using 3D technology to create additional PPE spread nationally, a number of locals decided to take action. Sheridan College Assistant Facilities Director James Lollar received a phone call from a local nurse regarding an article she saw from Billings where residents were using 3D printers to create face masks that use refillable filters. Lollar was able to download the instructions and necessary files directly from the Billings Clinic Foundation website, and he went to work creating two prototypes.
“This is another example of the Whitney Benefits Board helping our college and community. We have faculty, staff, and at least one student, Taylor Wendtland, who have volunteered their time to this effort. It is my understanding that Kennon, Ramaco Carbon, Sheridan Memorial, and I’m sure others have all given of their time and resources to help with this effort,” said Dr. Walter Tribley, Northern Wyoming Community College District President. “That kind of teamwork and coordination is impressive and demonstrates the kind of ingenuity and attitude we strive to instill in all of our students.”
There is a similar effort being spearheaded by Gillette College’s Area 59 in Campbell County, according to Tribley.