Montclair State’s MIX Lab said Monday it joined forces with Montclair Design Week to respond to the urgent need for personal protective equipment and other medical supplies in New York and New Jersey.
During the past month, more than 22,885 pieces of gear have been designed, assembled and donated to over a dozen medical facilities by a team consisting of students, faculty and volunteers.
“These volunteers are making an admirable contribution to the solutions necessary to combat the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mimi Feliciano, founder and chief executive officer of FEM Real Estate in Montville and advisory board member of the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at Montclair State University where the MIX Lab is housed.
The MIX Lab facility allows students and community members to work together to solve problems using innovation and 3-D printing.
The broad initiative known as the “Shield Our Heroes” campaign began in early April and also includes William Paterson University. The team works closely with medical professionals to determine shifting needs. They plan to continue their efforts until late May.
Recipients of PPE donations include Hackensack Meridian Health in Montclair and Hackensack; University Hospital Newark; St. Joseph’s University Medical Center in Paterson; East Orange General Hospital; Bayonne Medical Center, and all the hospitals in the St. Barnabas chain.
Although the MIX Lab team began producing about 350 face shields a day on 3-D printers, they soon realized it was an inefficient and costly method for meeting the growing demand, quickly shifting gears and freeing up 3-D printers to make specialty items such as mask straps and ventilator splitters.
As a result, face shields are assembled manually and require less 3-D printing, according to Iain Kerr, co-director of the MIX Lab. Kerr, along with fellow faculty member Jason Frasca, oversees the project.
On a daily basis, an assembly line of volunteers and students work in shifts to produce more than 1,000 shields per day, according to Kerr. Their goal is to deliver 30,000 face shields to those in need.
To keep the effort funded and to recruit more volunteers, Montclair State has set up a crowdfunding/giving page. Every dollar raised equals one face shield. To date, they’ve raised over $21,000 with a goal to reach $30,000 by the end of the month, according to their Facebook page.