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AMES, Iowa — As hospitals continue to be in need of more personal protective equipment, some Iowa State University students are back on campus to manufacture PPE for health care workers.

What was once a busy lab filled with students, looks a lot different these days.

“Next door to the lab is an empty studio that is usually filled with student projects and people working, but now it’s just our weird rotation of a couple students in here, so it’s much quieter,” ISU Undergraduate Research Assistant Anna Lukens said.

This rotation pairs eight students with 30 3D printers to make face shields for health care workers.

“A more physical barrier, it’s used to extend the life of medical PPE,” ISU Assistant Professor of Architecture Shelby Doyle said.

“Our goal is to make around 2,000 masks total,” Lukens said. “We’ve sent out probably 300 masks so far.”

But making these face shields is kind of a slow process.

“It takes about three hours to print the parts for each mask,” Lukens said.

“We get all 30 of them going and we’re kind of rotating shifts around so we can print all day and really get as many put out as possible,” ISU Undergraduate Research Assistant Tyler Beers said. “I think now we could do 90 to 100 masks a day, with the rotation that we’ve got going on.”

The students are not stopping anytime soon.

“When we run out of materials or campus has to really shut down. If the safety of the students is compromised, then we’ll take a pause.” Doyle said.

Until then, the students will keep printing because for some this work is personal.

“This is something that’s kind of close to my heart just because I have a cousin that’s a nurse, so it’s just really in the family and I want to do this for that and help as much as we can,” Beers said.

“Everyone knows a doctor or a nurse or more … I think it all becomes very personal very quickly that this isn’t an abstraction, that there are people that we all know and care about that are out there doing this work,” Doyle said.

Allient Energy is sponsoring this project by donating materials and helping distribute the face shields to local hospitals.