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Show Me Kindness: 3D printers inside closed schools are working overtime to make masks

Schools are using 3D printers to help fight the pandemic while students are out of the classroom

ST. LOUIS — Schools are shut down for the rest of the year, but a piece of equipment inside many of those buildings is working overtime.

It's a different sound coming from schools across St. Louis right now. Hallways remain empty, but their 3D printers remain busy.

"All the schools are making this headband piece. This piece is the thing that we can 3D print and it has hooks on the front," said Rob Ladage, Academic Dean at Lutheran High School South.

Dozens of school are teaming up to take part in the Face Shield Initiative, which called on school educators to use their 3D printers, otherwise sitting idle, to help health care workers on the front lines.

“We came together last week, had a Zoom call with a bunch of schools,” he said.

Some of the schools that are teaming up are usually rivals on the field. Since sports are shut down, this initiative has helped keep the competitive spirit alive.

"The morning after the Zoom conference on doing this, our principal texted me. He said, ‘I just heard that Lutheran High St. Charles,’ a competitor, ‘is already printing masks. What are you going to do about it?’ We started figuring out how to get more to print per hour," said Brian Lind, assistant principal and coach.

Lutheran South has made a total of 70 headbands for face shields.

"The coach in me right now is saying we gotta be able to do as much as John Burroughs." Lind said.

"John Burroughs has been doing this for four weeks and has made 350 shields," said Chris Lubniewski, John Burroughs Department Head of Industrial Technology and Engineering.

Lutheran South has some catching up to do. But there are no losers in this friendly competition with one team and one goal.

“It feels good," Ladage said.

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