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Iowa School Uses 3D Printer to Make Face Shields for Health Care Professionals


3D printers at Theresa’s Catholic School making face shields. (Courtesy Ronda McCarthy)

DES MOINES, Iowa – St. Theresa’s Catholic School is using its 3D printers to create protective gear for health care professionals during the coronavirus pandemic.

The school’s partner Des Moines Area 515 Maker’s Space asked the school to use its two 3D printers and create face shields for doctors and hospitals in the state.

Science Teacher Ronda McCarthy said, “We’re just going to keep printing and keep printing until they tell us to stop.”

So far the school has made 48 face shields. It takes 51 hours to create a set. Each set has 28 pieces.

“We have those digitally and we add them to our SD card and then we put the SD card right here in the 3D printer and we tell it to print. We have to make sure we have enough PLA. That’s the plastic material that the 3D prints are made from,” McCarthy said.

The school received a STEM grant from the governor’s council last year and is using those materials to make the protective gear.

McCarthy created a tutorial video for students to see how the gear is being made.

“Ours are being driven by four volunteers around the state to little towns like Audubon and Carroll and Ottumwa and they are delivering them right to the doctors’ offices and to the hospitals that need them,” McCarthy said.

In addition to the face shields, students at the school are also sewing masks for healthcare providers. So far 25 masks have been made.


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