Disaster Response and Mutual Aid

NYPA employees utilize 3D printers to make face shields

New York Power Authority employees are using 3D printers to make face shields for local health care workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

The effort grew out of a suggestion by Joseph Kessler, NYPA executive vice president and chief operating officer, that the statewide public power utility take advantage of its recent use of the 3D printer technology to help protect medical workers.

Greg Woodcock, a planner at NYPA’s Blenheim-Gilboa Pumped Storage Power Project in the Northern Catskills, and Kedaar Raman, a NYPA Digital Utility Worker program manager in NYPA’sd Albany Office, teamed on one of the two face-shield printing  initiatives.

The printer and supplies were moved to Woodcock’s home in Gilboa, N.Y., to make sure the material, printer and final product wouldn’t have any contact with sequestered employees working and living at the 1,160-megawatt pumped-storage project. The printer uses polylactic acid, a plastic filament, for the raw material.

Raman downloaded a 3D printer face-shield design from the National Institutes of Health website that showed how to make and put together the personal protective equipment, according to NYPA.

The printer makes a headband and visor for the face shield, which also needs a foam band to cushion the visor against the forehead. The foam band is available from area retailers.

NYPA said Woodcock is printing up to 60 face shields a week. An International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers mechanic is helping assemble the face shields. They expect to deliver about 200 shields to the Schoharie County Office of Emergency Management, which will hand them out to area health clinics.

“The Power Authority makes investments in its employees and supports them in pursuing these types of exploratory projects and technologies,” Woodcock said. “It’s a great feeling to be able to help those who are in need and to make a meaningful difference to the current circumstances.”

Meanwhile, Eugene Szpynda, a lead engineer in NYPA’s White Plains Office, and his brother have been printing face shields for health-care workers in New York City and Westchester County--part of the downstate region, which has been an epicenter for the COVID-19 virus.

Like Woodcock, Szpynda had used 3D printers, according to NYPA. He had previously designed and printed a prototype bracket to hold new equipment sensors in place at NYPA’s clean power plants in New York City.

For the face shield project, Szpynda used his own printer and got two more to speed up production.

Szpynda and his brother have printed frames for 100 face shields and more than 250 face-mask extension bands, NYPA said. The shields take about four hours to print and the mask extensions take about 20 minutes.

“It’s pretty sad that health care workers need to worry about having sufficient personal protective equipment in treating COVID patients,” Szpynda said. “If I can do a small part in helping to address this issue, I’m happy to pitch in.”