Cherry Creek 3D prints pieces for medical masks

Teachers, students lending hand against COVID-19

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The Cherry Creek School District is 3D-printing pieces for hundreds of personal protective masks, a key component for medical personnel in the fight against COVID-19, according to a news release from the district.

Advanced manufacturing teachers are working with officials from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus to produce pieces for the masks, part of what public health officials refer to as personal protective equipment, or PPE.

As the statewide school closure continues, fabrication labs at Cherokee Trail, Eaglecrest, Grandview and Smoky Hill high schools and the Cherry Creek Innovation Campus are harnessing equipment normally used for advanced manufacturing class to pull off the effort.

Three Smoky Hill engineering students are printing the mask components using a 3D printer in a sterile environment in their homes, just as the teachers are doing at the schools, said Anna Dolan, a district spokeswoman.

“At the CCSD sites, we're creating the headband that goes on face shields that will be used by medical staff,” Sarah Grobbel, an assistant superintendent for the district, said in the release. “Another producer is making the plastic component for the mask, and officials from Anschutz will manufacture the final product.”

The Cherry Creek Schools Foundation, which gives grants and other support to district students and educators, contributed money from its Emergency Relief Fund to help purchase supplies for the process.

“Right now, we've been able to manufacture 500 pieces in a week,” Grobbel said in the release. “As long as there's a demand, we're going to continue to print. We're planning to keep manufacturing these pieces for at least the next month.”

The effort intends to distribute statewide, Katherine Goodman, assistant professor and associate director at the Anschutz Medical Campus, said in the release.

“Also, we are documenting this model so that other states can stand up similar efforts,” Goodman added. “Our documentation efforts will include the supply chain work to ensure materials are safe to use.”

Those looking to contribute to this effort can donate to the foundation's Emergency Relief Fund. For more information, visit www.ccsdfoundation.org.

“We keep saying that in CCSD, Career and Technical Education is all about real-world learning,” Grobbel said in the release. “Our students have the chance to master the design process. Our instructors have access to the latest, real-world industry standards. This is all of that plus more. Cherry Creek Schools is having a direct hand in helping our medical personnel do their life-saving work and make it through this crisis safely.”

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