Andover High School junior Pratheek Kuimanda and five of his friends are producing face shields for healthcare workers with 3D printers in their downtime.
“Personally for me, I wanted to help out in any way possible,” said Kuimanda, 17. “I don’t have much homework at this time, and additionally, my grandma was a physician. And just thinking of her in retrospect, and her memory when she passed, if she were out in the field helping patients, I would personally want to help her out.”
To get the project going, Kuimanda reached out to Stephen Chinosi, head director of strategic innovation at Andover High School, and Scott Darlington, the school’s assistant principal.
They told Kuimanda and his team to contact the company Lowell Makes, which was producing N95 masks at the time. Company officials told them that they had enough N95 masks, so it would be better to produce face shields.
And so, that's what they're doing.
Kuimanda acquired two 3D printers from the school, one from the local library and several others from local families. The teens are using them to produce the face shields, reinforcement pieces and ear pieces.
“I am very bored at home, but being able to use my free time to benefit others is very fulfilling for me at least," Kuimanda said. "And I hope that eventually that when this pandemic is done we can almost keep this project going because there are rumors going around that there could be another wave in the winter.”
So far, Kuimanda and his team have made 250 face shields, some delivered to Lawrence General Hospital, the Carleton-Willard Village Nurse in Bedford, Mass., and Mass General Hospital in Boston.
Kuimanda said they have been using a design from a Czechoslovakian company called Prusa3D to make the shields. They downloaded the company’s design on an SD card.
One of Kuimanda’s teammates, Duncan McBrien, 15, a freshman at Andover High School, says he just wants to make things easier for those on the front lines who have been hit hard by the pandemic.
“You would hear the reports on TV about the nurses and everybody and the nurses struggling and having to reuse masks every single day,” McBrien said. “We are trying to help them because they are obviously under a lot of stress and it’s a tough situation for them. We are just trying to make it as easy as possible.”
In addition to Kuimanda and McBrien, other students involved in this project are Shashwat Ghevde, Steven Zhang, Davis Blanch, and Rishi Gujjar.
If you would like to help out Kuimanda’s face shield project, you can donate at https://www.customink.com/fundraising/ppehealthcare. A donation of $25 dollars covers the cost of about 10 to 12 face shields.