North Shelby Library 3D printing PPE parts for health care workers

Published 4:49 pm Wednesday, April 15, 2020

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NORTH SHELBY –North Shelby Library has joined the growing ranks of community members pulling together to make needed materials for those on the front lines of the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kate Etheredge, young adult services librarian, said she has been using the library’s 3D printer to produce components that are assembled to form personal protective equipment for area health care workers.

The library’s effort is part of the Bham Support organization. Bham Support describes itself as a “community of makers” coming together to meet needs during the pandemic.

“They have the files that we are printing and everything like that,” Etheredge said. “All I do is print the part of the shield that goes around the head and right at the bottom. We don’t have the materials to make the shield, just the headband and lower brace. We take them to Bham Support, they assemble them do some sterilization and then distribution.”

Various organizations and individual volunteers with 3D printers are making different parts of PPEs, but North Shelby at first thought they would not be able to contribute because their printer uses a different kind of plastic than was desired.

But it soon became clear that the need was so great that anyone willing and able to help would be needed.

Etheredge began 3D printing PPE parts during the second week of April.

It takes about 4 hours to print one of the parts—“It’s a slow process for our printer,” she said—so Etheredge took the printer to her home, where she can start jobs throughout the day but not have to devote her full attention to the printer.

The library purchased the printer several years ago for instruction and as part of library programming, and the material being used for the masks is part of the original inventory the library invested in.

“We still have a lot of our original supply that we purchased,” Etheredge said.

For more information about Bham Support, or to help out, visit