May 05, 2020
Every day, essential health workers like year 9 student Sher-Wen’s father are heading to work with a limited supply of face shields for protection against COVID-19. He’s an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist and the equipment they use, like Voroscopes, are incompatible with most regular protective equipment.

Sher-Wen’s mother, who is also a doctor, began to worry that they would both run out of their specialised protective equipment, when she read about civilians using their 3D printers to provide 3D print face masks to medical professionals at low costs.

So, Sher-Wen set out to see if she could 3D print a solution... but a stock standard 3D print face mask still wouldn’t solve the issue of accommodating the Voroscope. At that same time, Sher-Wen’s father Sor Way learned that his colleague had collaborated with RMIT to redesign a face shield to accommodate the equipment. So, Sher-Wen had her design, she just needed to find a way to print it.

“Since we don’t have a 3D printer at home, we asked Abi (Year 9 student) and her dad to help us as they have a 3D printer at home. After some trials, they were able to print a successful 3D face shield but it took many hours,” says Sher-Wen.

That led to emailing MLC Principal, Ms Diana Vernon to enquire about using the school’s printers. The face shields are of a size that necessitated the use of MLC’s larger 3D printers. However, by then mandatory home isolation protocols and school holidays meant that Sher-Wen couldn’t access the school’s printers at this time. MLC Drama teacher and Learning Technology Consultant Mr Simon Corkeron, who has worked with Sher-Wen supporting her with 3D printing at school, was generously ready to help and print the face shields.

Together, Abi and Mr Corkeron were able to print 6 working masks that were delivered to Sor Way and his colleagues on the front line. Having specially designed 3D print face masks could make a world of difference to the safety of doctors like Sor Way.

Left: The Voroscope shown underneath the 3D print mask. Right: Mr Corkeron's 3D print mask

“The 3D printed frame is reusable and easily secured with good old rubber bands around our head. The transparent sheet is a standard A4 projector transparency which can be cleaned & reused or replaced easily,” says Sor Way.

“COVID-19 is transmitted via droplets similar to the common cold. ENT doctors are particularly exposed to these droplets during clinical examinations and surgeries of the upper airway. The face shields printed by Mr Corkeron and Abi’s family are now an important part of our armoury.”

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